Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveal over 11,000 fatally reported road accident cases in Nigeria for 2015 (see map). Emphasis on the word “reported” means the strong possibility of several unreported cases. Sadly, these reported cases claimed the lives of over 5000 Nigerians that same year.
Accidents may be inevitable but can be controlled and minimized. However, what steps have been taken in order to have a significant reduction in these numbers? Accidents are caused by several factors amongst which include: bad roads, DUI (Driving under the Influence), reckless driving, mechanical problems and many more.
Many of these deaths could have been avoidable if there was access to high quality location data. Knowledge of accident figures alone is never enough without the ability of answering the “where” question. If the exact location of these accidents are plotted on a map, a significant problem is solved. Once we are able to answer the “Where” question, then the “Why” becomes much easier.
A typical example of using incomplete data for visual representation is the map displayed above. Each randomly placed red dot only communicates data on the number of reported fatal accidents but is silent on the actual location of these events. If these dots were a representation of exact location of accidents, crime, natural disaster etc.; imagine how meaningful that would be.
If accurate location data for all accidents occurring in Nigeria is collected for a whole year, we’d be able to visualize the concentration and/or spread of road accidents nationwide. With this data in place, we can begin to investigate why there is a concentration of accidents in a particular location; what may be the underlying factors; could it be the presence of a major pothole on that road or the absence of a pedestrian bridge forcing commuters to cross the expressway; could it be that a particular signage is responsible for obstructing drivers’ vision and so on.
With these hypotheses, relevant public officials can visit these accident “hot-spots” for a full and proper investigation. Knowing the “where” leads to knowing the “why” which consequently leads to knowing “how” to solve this problem. The beautiful thing about data is that trend can be monitored over time and the effect of precise data gathering and proper action can mitigate unfortunate events in the future.