Global Marathon 2012

November 9th-11th 2012
Made Possible By
GE Logo
With Support From
Google Logo

Held November 9th – 11th, the 2012 Visualizing Global Marathon was the largest-ever student data visualization competition. Sponsored by GE and Google, this was the eighth student data visualization hackathon hosted by since 2010. The program brings design and computer science students together to tackle real-world issues with data and design.

For one weekend, students from around the world competed at one of our 21 in-person meetups or virtually from their own workspace, sharing in the same experience by connecting with other participants using social media and our Live Dashboard. Participants tackled one of three data visualization challenges, each reflecting a different facet of the data revolution: Real-Time, Big, and Social. $15,000 in cash prizes is awarded to the top three Interactive and top three Infographic projects, as selected by a jury, and to a People’s Choice project, voted on by the community.


Compete at events hosted by partner universities, art+tech hubs and other spaces around the world.


Any student can participate from their own computer. Work alone or get together a group of friends.
Live Dashboard Screenshot
Live Dashboard included video broadcasts, chat room, and photo sharing
Meetup participants in France
Meetup participants in U.S.
Meetup participants in Italy
Meetup participants in Korea
Meetup participants in Belgium
Meetup participants in Brazil
1,017 design and computer science students
from 176 universities in 38 countries
participated in the marathon.
Students joined the Global Marathon from: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Italy, Kenya, South Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
Meetup participants in India
Meetup participants in Germany
Meetup participants in Turkey
Meetup participants in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Meetup participants in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Meetup participants in Brazil

Workshops and Broadcasts

Leading design experts broadcast Data Viz workshops and Q&A; sessions with Google+ Hangouts inspiring students and offering tips and techniques. Students also shared their work during Student Showcases.

Google+ Hangout Screenshots

Marathon participants made extensive use of social media to share their experience and communicate with other students around the world. Aside from the challenge, students also participated in chat room discussions, photo contests, and mini design challenges.


Participants had 56 hours to:

  1. Kickoff the Marathon
  2. Explore Challenges & Data
  3. Choose a Topic
  4. Brainstorm & Sketch
  5. Focus Project
  6. Refine Vision
  7. Upload Work!
Students in Mainz, Germany
Participants in Mainz, Germany

Links: Event Page | Day-of Overview | Event Photos

Three Challenge Topics

Participants could choose from three different topics. For each challenge topic, we assembled a data set sliced into tables of varying complexity.

Each challenge explored a different aspect of the data revolution:

  • Real-Time: The velocity at which we now capture data — from sensor networks or search engines, for example — allows us to monitor systems in real-time and intervene before it’s too late.
  • Big: The volume of data we now generate is unprecedented. Making sense of Big Data is no small task — relying on science, design, and technology. It is important to use the scale of a data set to visualize an entire system in all its complexity — without allowing this complexity to overpower a design.
  • Social: Within the “exhaust” we leave behind when using social media and mobile phones is a treasure trove of new insights about human behavior, the flow of information, and the structure of society.
Challenge 1 Challenge 2 Challenge 3
Tweet screenshot
Tweet screenshot

Over the course of the weekend, marathon participants worked on one of the three challenges to produce a visualization project. Check out all the submissions in these six galleries:

Participant sketches

Students in Potsdam
Workspace in Potsdam

Congratulations to the winners of the Visualizing Global Marathon! Our awesome jurors selected the top three interactive and top three infographic projects and honorable mention selections. $15,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winners, courtesy of GE. Read more in the announcement on our blog.

Interactive Prizes

Krisztina Szucs
University of Budapest (Hungary)
Cristina Palamini, Chiara Andreossi
Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
Joseph Henry Murphy, Chad Juehring
University of Florida (US)

Infographic Prizes

Jeremias Volker, Julian Stahnke, Lionel Michel, Christina Serowski
University of Applied Sciences Potsdam (Germany)
Marianne Kaufmann, Massimo Guizzetti
Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
Till Nagel
KU Leuven (Belgium)

People’s Choice

Qian Liu, Yun Teng
University of California, Santa Barbara (US)
Runner Up
Tiago M. Torres, Lucas Pazin, Milena Mariano
Centro Universitário Senac (Brazil)
Alongside the jurors’ results, we offered a People’s Choice prize to the visualization that received the most favorited votes. We asked you — the community — to vote for your favorite visualizations and select the winning and runner up projects. It was a close call, but a team from Santa Barbara, US, narrowly edged out a team from São Paulo, Brazil, to win the prize.

Honorable Mentions

Yunjung Shin
Dongduk Womens University (South Korea)
Elisabetta Ghezzi, Luca D’Onofrio
Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
Andrea Molteni, Ileana Ricci
Politecnico di Milano (Italy)

Our gratitude goes out to:

Our fantastic lineup of speakers: Richard Saul Wurman, Alberto Cairo, and Kim Rees.

The expert designers who answered participants questions in Q&A; Broadcasts: Ben Hosken, Scott Murray, Moritz Stefaner, and Mahir Yavuz.

A special thanks to Santiago Ortiz, who collected the data sets and worked with us to craft the challenges.

To all our meetup partners: amberPlatform, Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo, Centro Universitário Senac, CMoDA, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Ecole Supérieure d'Infographie – Albert Jacquard, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, KU Leuven, L E'cole de design Nantes Atlantique, Maryland Institute of College Art, Ohio State University, Politecnico di Milano, randomwalks, School of Visual Arts, Strathmore University, University College London, University of Applied Sciences Mainz, University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, University of Brighton, University of Hong Kong, University of the West of England.

Our sponsors, GE and Google, who made this whole event possible.

And a huge thanks to all of the students! Your time, energy, talent and participation made this event a success and we appreciate your contribution to the data visualization community.

And to our jury of leading data and design professionals: