While I was out on vacation last week, my itinerary called for a one-day stopover in London. Somehow managed to miss most of the tourist attractions while I was actually living in the UK, so now I try and remedy that on visits. This time, we stopped by the Churchill War Rooms, the underground bunker used by the Prime Minister, his cabinet and military chiefs to direct the defense of the UK during World War II.
It's a facinating museum and well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in history, but as a data geek the Map Room in particular caught my eye. There you can see how an army of secretaries kept meticulous data on the impact of Hitler's attacks on London:
The chart below, "German U-boat situation as assessed at 16th July 1945" was especially interesting. The whole wall was an analysis of the extent of the remaining Axis war vessels (perhaps based on intelligence like this):
Finally, it was interesting to see that BI Dashboards aren't as recent of an invention as we may think (here, showing up-to-date troop strengths in the Pacific theatre):
It's hard to believe that these analyses were created in the most difficult conditions, with intermittent power and bombs dropping all around, with narrow lines of communications ... and of course without any of the technological tools we take for granted today. No computers, no printers, no R ... not even calculators! And it's nice to know that Statistics and Data Visualization -- what today we'd call Data Science -- had a strategic part in the war effort. Keep Calm, and Carry on Charting!
Photos my me (David M Smith). Click to enlarge, and feel free to reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.