What make a good dashboard?

This certainly is an interesting question: what make a good dashboard? Before being tempted to take a prompt attempt, let’s get back to what a dashboard is. A dashboard gathers streams of real-time data, where you have at one glance the current road traffic of main highways, status of key public transport, the stock market, hostel availability and weather (just to name a few). You can view a dashboard as a miniature city, where you have all the information necessary for you to act, navigate and make decisions.

A dashboard may come in different forms, city dashboards and personalised dashboards being the 2 major types. Our earlier blog post explores the traits of some city dashboards, such as London Dashboard and Venice Dashboard. If you look closer, they are all different. They differ not only in the streaming data contents, but also in what realms they incorporate as part of the dashboards. London Dashboard emphasises the traffic and transport, displaying information from traffic cameras, availability of bikes, subway status to buses and underground trains in service, which hints at its priority of urban mobility and commuting. In other words, a city dashboard lets us know a city’s priorities, and what its citizens are concerned about.

But if you come to think about it, it’s very natural: as a dashboard enables the citizens to make better decisions, it must supply information important to the citizens, which may be the realms of information making up part of their life. Obviously, a city dashboard cannot take up all the information, that’s why it must prioritise. How a dashboard prioritises by embedding certain realms of information into part of it while excluding others may shed light on what make a good dashboard.

It is vital for a dashboard to cater to its users, namely the public for city dashboards and the I for a personalised dashboard. So a dashboard varies from one another, be it a city dashboard or personal one. Apart from providing the information its citizens need, it is critical that a dashboard gives the right information, which points to the issue of accountability.

While good dashboards may vary from one another depending on a city and users, are there universal items every dashboard must incorporate? Perhaps that’ll be about public safety and mobility. Still there are uncertainties and possibilities, but along the evolution we’ll shape different dashboards and explore the different shapes of a city.


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