Infographic

Format description: 

Infographics (short for “information graphics”) are visualisations of data or ideas that try to convey complex information in a manner that can be quickly received and easily understood. They are also referred to as “explanation graphics” as they merge different content elements, e.g. geographic and technical information.

In the context of power grid developments, Infographics can – for example – be effectively used by TSOs, political decision-makers, regulating or Permitting authorities to communicate corridors, route alternatives or specific locations of grid development projects via maps. Infographics could be placed on websites, posters or brochures. A major advantage of Infographics is that they allow for faster reception of content than a written text, thus enabling audiences to easily relate and connect to the information transmitted. This feature of Infographics could make up for the growing trend of a decreased attention level from many types of audiences.

Infographics can sometimes (e.g. in online applications) even be dynamically enhanced to allow for flexible visualisation, i.e. showing high or middle-voltage power lines in different regions, mere extensions or entirely new developments, or even pointing out on-going stakeholder-involvement activities on the ground.

Cost/required resources: 
Usual patterns: 

The costs of developing Infographics are relatively high, as compared to less complex and static graphical formats. Infographics will in most cases require graphical design done by communication experts. In a web context, for instance, they may require advanced programming skills in dynamic tools of content representation. At the same time, they should not be a “playground” for designers per se. Instead, they should serve to raise public understanding of grid development projects, to the extent that audiences find information in Infographics easy to digest.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • To what extent can synergies be tapped with regard to other formats and channels that require the sourcing of graphic design capacities, e.g. web design, poster drafts?

  • How can extra costs for dynamic Infographics on Project websites be shared amongst various stakeholders (e.g. TSOs, regulatory authorities, Permitting authorities etc.)?

     

Audiences: 
Usual patterns: 

The general public can be effectively informed with the help of Infographics, because they can easily showcase the need for a particular regional or even national endeavour to extend a power grid – beyond the individual project in question. When combined with a map of the region or country, the graphics can help explain individual projects within the “big picture”.

Moreover, interactive features are likely to attract and retain the interest of audiences (e.g. a visitor to a Project website) for a longer period of time, as they can explore different contents almost playfully.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What kind of information regarding grid development is the general public likely to be interested in?

  • How can it be illustrated with the help of Infographics?

  • Can online or print media outlets be approached to adopt pre-designed Infographics when reporting on grid development projects?

Usual patterns: 

Local audiences such as Adjacent communities, Local citizens’ initiatives, and Land owners can also be effectively informed of grid development projects with the help of Infographics. They help illustrate the significance of a single project in the greater context of a grid network – thus highlighting the significance of an individual link for the functioning of the entire power supply chain. Moreover, Infographics can help to illustrate some technical aspects of a power-line that local audiences are interested in, e.g. profile-views of pylons that show measurements (height, width) and Technical details. In that sense, local stakeholders can call upon TSOs and permitting and regulatory authorities to present project-related information (e.g. on routing, technology, capacities) in a simple manner.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • What information of local relevance are local audiences likely to be interested in?

  • Which information could be most easily presented through Infographics, as opposed to a text-based format?

     

Content to be communicated: 
Usual patterns: 

Infographics are a helpful format to communicate the precise location of a grid development project, e.g. via an interactive map that singles out substations at starting and end points of each project (if applicable). Infographics can also show clear differences between voltage-levels (380kV, 220kV) that are of particular interest to local audiences.

Moreover, map-based Infographics may help to visualize the need of grid development, or highlight major connections to Power producers (e.g. large off-shore wind farms connected to private and Industrial consumers through the new power lines).

Some TSOs also use map-based Infographics to illustrate capacity utilisation rates of different lines across their grids – thus highlighting bottlenecks and capacity shortages (e.g. through a colour-code) in specific grid legs. Such Infographics can make the case for a grid development in an explicit and transparent way to other stakeholders.

Any other type of important communication content (e.g. the Compensation measures) for Land owners and Adjacent communities can also be represented with Infographics.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Does the grid development project in question play a role in a larger grid development initiative (e.g. at the national level) that could be highlighted via a map?

  • What are the key geographic parameters of a project that need to be highlighted, like substations, transformers or Power producers at the outset?

  • How many types of content can be combined in a single Infographic (e.g. network context, Project location, Technical details, project schedule)?

Channel to be used to transmit format: 
Usual patterns: 

Infographics are most effective in informing stakeholders online, whether embedded in a specific Project website, the existing homepage of the TSO or the internet presence of a public authority (political, regulatory or permitting). Users can click through different pieces of information and thus flexibly dig deeper into project contents.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Where and to which extent can Infographics replace texts as a form for presenting content? This echoes the principle that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Usual patterns: 

Infographics can also be a suitable format to present complex project information through channels that allow for a more thorough study by interested audiences. Such channels might be Public space events (e.g. Infographics on posters, roll-ups etc.), open days or Town hall meetings during which Infographics are used during a Presentation or small Exhibitions.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Can Infographics be used as a format of communication that is used across different channels?

  • Do the project-specific communication activities contain online, print and personal channels?

     

Country-specific examples: 

For policy makers and TSOs in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Denmark that face similar challenges in terms of paving the way for future energy systems largely reliant on renewable energy sources, grid development is an issue of national importance. Infographics at the level of National policy makers and Regional/national TSOs can effectively demonstrate this “national importance” by highlighting the significance of power transmission across regions from producers to consumers. A case in point is the initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology “Ja zum Netzausbau!” which mainly relies on an Infographic on its front-page to guide a website visitor through the different projects across the country as well as their interconnection.

http://www.bmwi.de/DE/Themen/Energie/Netzausbau/ja-zum-netzausbau.html

 

 

In geographically peripheral countries in Europe, Infographics can help to communicate to local and global audiences the challenges of implementing the “n-1 rule” which requires TSOs to provide a backup for each transmission line in the grid as well as realising sufficient interconnections with other Member States. A joint Infographic–map could communicate why and where parallel power lines for n-1 standards are necessary that might seem redundant to the formerly uninformed audience.