I just re-watched the brilliant BBC programme “The Joy of Stats”, where the infectious Hans Rosling’s encourages you to explore the world of statistics. I’ve been hunting for a long time in search of a better way to present the mass of data on broadband and was left somewhat envious of the way Hans presents his world facts.

Good news!! He has a website from which you can download the tool he uses with such zeal, and you can create your own animated graphs on a whole range of global datasets, from poverty and health to broadband and the internet – yep, he has included just what I’ve been looking for!

I’ve not really had time to fully understand the mass of correlations the software supports yet, but I thought I’d share with you a couple of very quick snapshots.

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The first  was a chart plots the degree of urbanisation against broadband levels. I expected to see a nice clean line – the more urban the country, the higher the level of broadband. But it wasn’t quite as clean cut as that. Many of the countries that rank better than us in terms of broadband take-up are also less urban – in some cases significantly more rural.

So perhaps this is a case of logic over engineering – more rural areas demand broadband because they need it for shopping, healthcare, education and so on simply because traditional face time services are a long way away.

The second assumption was that you need a PC to drive up sufficient demand for broadband. Again, not quite true. A number of countries with lower PC ownership rates than the UK also have better broadband take-up. Is this a sign that other countries are finding more things to do with their broadband connection than just connect a PC, like tele-medicine? Or that perhaps we have been poor at marketing it? Do other countries offer a more compelling story, more than just “here’s your bandwidth, now get on with it”.

I don’t have the answers to these, just a growing number of questions – and the more I play with the Gapminder tools, the more questions I’ll have.

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