Presented By O'Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
5–7 May, 2015 • London, UK

Visualizing the world's largest democratic exercise

Anand Subramanian (Gramener)
17:05–17:45 Thursday, 7/05/2015
Privacy, Law, & Ethics
Location: St. James / Regents
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 1 rating)
Slides:   external link

Prerequisite Knowledge

A working knowledge of web applications


As part of an initiative to transform data journalism on television, CNN-IBN issued a challenge to the public: “Ask us any question about the elections, and our anchors will answer it in real time.”

A large touch-screen was installed in their studio. The anchor transformed into an analyst, taking calls and answering them in real-time.

The visuals on the screen were created by Gramener, a data visualization firm. The focus was on simplicity (on TV, the audience needs to absorb information instantly), combined with flexibility (the anchor needs to answer the question instantly.)

The problem was coupled with data volume. The bulk of the 540 million votes was electronically counted in the first four hours between 8:00 am – 12:00 noon, and results were streamed in real time. News became stale within a few seconds.

This talk is about the the design choices that went into the creation of the dashboard, the insights that came out of the data, and the technology that allowed serving over 10 million visitors on a single server that morning.

The lesson the talk aims to convey is: How to design a real-time visualization.

Here are some links to earlier talks on this topic.

Photo of Anand Subramanian

Anand Subramanian


Anand is the chief data scientist at He tells visual stories from data, ranging from politics to fraud, education to entertainment, social media to governance. His work is available at

Anand has an MBA from IIM Bangalore and a B.Tech from IIT Madras. He has worked at IBM, Lehman Brothers, The Boston Consulting Group, and Infosys Consulting. He blogs at