Big Data Spain

17th ~ 18th NOV 2016 MADRID, SPAIN #BDS16

Case of success: Visualization as an example for exercising democratic transparency.

Friday 18th

from 14:40 to 14:55

Theatre 20



This project’s goal was to create an interactive dashboard about the government budgets from 2007 to 2016 by analysing and visualising the annual state’s revenues and expenses in a comprehensive manner.

Utilising this Big Data based tool, the citizen can easily understand the taxes’ distribution and each ministerial offices' expenditure, offering the user a basic financial vision of Spain’s economic situation without needing any financial literacy.

This analysis was performed by implementing a combination of the tools MongoDB and Tableau Public.

To evaluate the impact of this way of processing data, a survey among a randomly chosen population was performed to rate the tool’s functionality and the usefulness of applying Big Data tools, compared to the raw data published on the website of the Ministry of Finance, demonstrating the benefits of applying Big Data to challenging areas where common citizens find themselves lost easily.

Guidelines followed by this project:
- The visualisation is a key point for processing the information.
- Open data can and must have a beneficial effect on the citizen.
- The application of the Big Data methodology to non-technical environments.

Throughout the past years numerous cases of political corruption were revealed in the country. This series of scandals troubled the population greatly, making it reflect about the waste and the opacity of the State accounts. A growing collective awareness arose among all social classes that politics are not so unattainable and distant from their everyday lives and therefore the population is increasingly calling for a greater transparency of the accounts of the local and national governments.

In response, the different administrations have begun to publish the state budgets in a standardised way, using allocated digital portals as a communication channel for this purpose.

Nevertheless, the published documentation is based on a specific accounting methodology, requiring great financial expertise or large amounts of spare time from the citizens due to the data’s complexity. These are the circumstances that gave rise to the project.

Looking at the contents provided on the Ministry’s website it is obvious that the information provided to citizens is quite extended and serves little useful purpose, given the fact that it offers a big number of files which are hosted inside a vast and interrelated, counter-intuitive folder system.

To provide an example, each fiscal year is made up of more than 10.000 files and 1.500 folders, meaning that for the chosen time period there are approximately 100.000 files and 15.000 folders of information without any graphical contents at the present work’s disposal. Handling this repository is frankly impossible without the help of information processing tools.

Therefore this work is based on the following points:
- Analyse the repository to find relevant files susceptible to investigation.
- The process of data normalization and standardization.
- Create a common architecture which serves to structure different levels of information.
- Develop a graphic dashboard, enabling the citizens to make up their own conclusions based on objective data.

The work’s final poll consisted in asking the randomly chosen test users a series of basic questions, allowing them to discover if the chosen form to present the information helps to better understand the State’s economy.

We are talking about a “case of success”, because the survey’s results to evaluate the present work were extraordinary, with an average score of 4,9 out of 5 when rating the utility of the Dashboard.

Thus, this project serves to demonstrate the benefits of Big Data tools in non-technical environments.

Note: Big Data was used beyond the field of IT to demonstrate the beneficial effects open data can have for the citizens. It cannot be ignored that the information’s visualization is an art and an important pillar within this context.

Sandra Cobos foto

Sandra Cobos

Provide Business SolutionsComputer Science Engineer

Lisa Lange foto

Lisa Lange

Provide Business SolutionsCEO