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Visualizing the Growth of Oregon’s Athletic and Outdoor Industry

Written By Nick Mendez | Dec 10, 2014

In search of a new way to illustrate the breadth and diversity of Oregon’s athletic and outdoor industry, an employer to more than 15,000 people, the Portland Development Commission came to Oregon Story Board, an organization dedicated to collaborative digital storytelling.

The result of that collaboration is the A&O Ecosystem, an interactive timeline of the sector’s rapid expansion and success. Developed at +Citizen using their ecosystem platform, the visualization includes hundreds of organizations across apparel, footwear and creative services.

“The beauty of this ecosystem structure is the ability to bring together a wide subset or total view of an industry or system,” said Krystal South, Program Manager at OSB, “something that can radically shift how an organization views themselves.”

Key to providing that context was a foundation of verifiably current and accurate data. The original research, collected by Heike Mayer of the University of Bern in Switzerland five years earlier, needed augmentations–website URLs, founding dates, and end dates if the company had since folded.

The stronger the dataset, the more relevant and useful the tool becomes.

“Incomplete data couldn’t tell the whole story,” Krystal said. “The stronger the dataset, the more relevant and useful the tool becomes.”

More than another diversion, the ecosystem is built to not only allow companies to see where they fit into the larger industry, but as a powerful recruiting tool–one that will draw to Oregon the talented professionals necessary to keep the sector growing.

“The interactive ecosystem provides PDC with an excellent tool for recruiting companies in this industry to Oregon,” said Jenny Moede, Executive Director at OSB and Strategic Counsel at +Citizen. “They are more likely to make the jump if they know the size, scope, specialties and interconnectedness of the existing industry.”

The project has also brought to light new patterns in the growth of the sector, including a massive spike in cycling-related businesses in 2010.

“We thought that might mean either recession-driven entrepreneurism, an increase in the number of bike commuters to reduce gas costs, or some mix of both,” Jenny said of their findings.

This is the second time +Citizen has deployed their visualization technology. The system was unveiled at SXSW Interactive 2014 with the debut of the Connected Car Ecosystem, and the agency has big plans for its future.

Its next iteration, visualizing the digital storytelling ecosystem, will be unveiled at Oregon Story Board Demo Day on January 9th.

Krystal has been brainstorming a number of enhancements, including making the circle sizes relative to company revenue, or mapping the businesses by zip code.

“People love exploring something visual and interactive like this,” she said, “it’s great to see how people engage.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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