In Memoriam: Hans Rosling

We at Population Reference Bureau were extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Hans Rosling, an eminent visual communicator of data with whom we had the great fortune to collaborate.

In 2007, not long after Rosling made his first famous TED Talk that went viral, we approached him about an opportunity to collaborate. We had been offered funding to produce engaging multimedia presentations that would highlight the reproductive health needs of women and contribute to reducing maternal deaths and disabilities.  We thought the Trendalyzer bubble graph tool developed by Rosling would be the perfect data platform to bring a new perspective and add a “wow” factor to presentations about this critical issue.

After some contentious and animated initial discussions (it was Rosling’s way of testing us to see that we were up to snuff!), he agreed to allow us to use the Trendalyzer, and for the following six years, he became a tireless supporter, mentor, provocateur on all things data related, critic, delightful colleague, and friend.

His support helped us raise PRB’s bar on data visualization and deliver priority health and population messages in compelling formats to multiple heads of state, ministers, and parliamentarians, and thousands of other policy stakeholders around the globe. We will miss you Hans.

In honor of Rosling’s creativity and passion for data, below are links to two examples of how he helped enrich PRB’s capacity to tell the story of family planning and its role in economic development:

Fertility and Economic Growth Around the World highlights how family planning can contribute to development and economic growth.

African Success Stories in Fertility and Economic Growth uses Trendalyzer to illustrate African success stories from Botswana and Tunisia, highlighting how strategic investments enabled changes in the population age structure and yielded economic growth.