Curtin University and CSIRO

CASE STUDY: Data visualisation case study for Ningaloo Reef with Curtin University and the CSIRO.

Ellis Jones  •  Wednesday October 13, 2010
Design  •  Government
design and websites design social media strategy ningaloo uncovered


Curtin University is a leading Australian university located in Perth and Sydney. It is the largest and most multicultural of Western Australia’s universities. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.


In April 2010, Curtin University commissioned the production of a website to visualise the interrelationship of data collected by its Vensim system, on its Ningaloo Cluster Project (a collaboration with CSIRO). Ningaloo Marine Park has been the subject of intense scrutiny because of its pending listing as a world heritage site, importance as an economic contributor and its proximity to commercial industry such as fisheries and resources. Our response was an exemplar data visualisation case study.


Data-sets were analysed to identify the most effective website functionality and visualisation technology. Stakeholder research assessed the objectives of government, political leaders, local community members, cultural/indigenous stakeholders, conservationists and scientists – all of whom are reached through the engagement activity. Stakeholder insight led to development of a media and online engagement strategy. 

The website was developed with a rich visual and textual narrative, tying the project’s findings to the the experiences of Australians. It underwent significant cognitive review by CSIRO representatives leading to final visualisation development.

The website relates the estimated impact of tourism and development on the marine park by quantifying factors such as economic growth,  fishing and energy use. It’s tangible, interactive and visually arresting.

All copy, branding, design (including naming and logo) and illustrations evoked the Ningaloo experience.

The engagement strategy has three objectives: driving people to the site, holding them, and bringing them back with their networks. It comprised:

  • Contacting – via phone and email – individuals in key media and stakeholder organisations to explain the project’s relevance to their target audiences and provide written content. Messaging was crafted to respond to the particular objectives of each stakeholder group and emails produced for dissemination from senior project staff addresses.
  • Packaging content (ready for insertion) and sending to peak industry and conservation groups for them to disseminate through their own media (member newsletters etc.)
  • Delivering an interactive visualisation experience worth trying and sharing – links to popular social media platforms are embedded in the site


Google Analytics provides visibility, measuring traffic to, and activity on, the site. All stakeholders were alerted to the site and its potential as an engagement tool. Media relations saw Curtin representatives speak about the power of data visualisation to present facts and interrelationships in a politicised environment.

Called Ningaloo Uncovered, this project represents cutting edge use of web technology to communicate complex scientific data to multiple stakeholders.

Once hosted at, the site has now been decommissioned. See screenshots below.

data visualisation case study


data visualisation case study