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April is Visualization Challenge Time!

While there has been some criticism of a particular type of visualization challenge recently, there are many other challenges that are organized well and provide good opportunities for people to work on their skills. Two challenges in particular have caught my attention, and are presented here with the official EagerEyes Quality Seal and Stamp of Approval.

California Healthcare Foundation Challenge

The California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF) has published a dataset on healthcare costs, broken down by payer and type of cost, over fifty years. Their data package contains not just a well-organized spreadsheet, but also some interesting additional data and some pointers to other relevant data sources, like the consumer price index. The judging rules are also focused on education and information, rather than just flashes and explosions; there is some overlap between the education and presentation criteria, though.

In addition to interesting and challenging data, the rules are also very straight-forward, and you don't give up all your rights plus your first-born in case you win. The CHCF in fact only gets a right to use your entry non-exclusively and will negotiate further terms later. The first prize is worth $5000, second $3000, third $1000, and one of two honorable mentions still gets you $500.

More information is available on the challenge website and on their twitter feed. The latter is useful for asking questions, like whether the challenge is open to permanent residents and not restricted to U.S. citizens, as stated in the materials (it is).

Tableau Student Data Challenge

This challenge is more like a visualization "marathon," where everybody is given a dataset at the same time and has a limited amount of time to create something with it. In this case, you have four days (April 12 to April 16), and you have to publish your work first to Tableau Public and then link to it from a blog. The challenge is organized in collaboration with CARE, and the data will be related to their work.

To participate, you have to be a student at a U.S. institution and either a citizen or permanent resident (international students in the U.S. or students at institutions outside the U.S. cannot take part). For more information, plus the full conditions, see the Student Data Challenge website. The winner receives $1250 in "cold hard cash" (yes, that's a quote from the website), the second place gets $750, and there is also a crowd favorite category that is worth $500.

And while I am working at Tableau this year, I am in no way involved in this challenge; I actually only learned about it from an email that was sent to my university address. Still, if you live in the same household as me, you are not eligible to participate. (EDIT: I was just asked to be a judge for this contest)

Posted by Robert Kosara on April 4, 2012.