Fires of London: Study 2


In short: The colors are for first and second responders. The further around the “clock” the longer they took to respond and the further out from the center indicates the date (2009 to 2012).  The background “rays” show target response times.

Description: This image, despite looking like an 80’s album cover (the ratios of the inner and outer radius are also deliberately the same as a LP vinyl record), shows all the response times of all incidents between 2009 and 2012 for the London Fire Brigade. The first and second responders take the red and green channels and appear radially as they would on a standard clock-face, or stop-watch. The distance from the center of the clock-face being the date of the incident. The data is then placed within the block-colors that delineate the targets response times set by the London Fire Brigade, which largely seem to be well met. At a glance this is easily interpreted as the data is presented on a clock-face. Typically in annual-reports the average response time for a year would be presented, however the data is more complex than a single number. The pastel pinks and blues are a soft representation of an urgent situation, though the artificial look of the coloring has a chemical feel that stops the image becoming too comfortable to look at.

Point of interest:  The end of 2010 is a period where the targets are clearly not being met. A quick search reveals that this was a time of intense industrial action and disagreements between the service and the staff, just like in the 80’s in the UK. By showing this data as a very basic line-graph, this effect can be hidden.  Whatever the politics, data can be masked but the effects are always in there if presented objectively.

Technical: All 485,056 incidents responded to by the London Fire Brigade 2009-2012 (data available at All incidents with a response time are represented at the position on the quarter-circle equivalent to where it would be on a standard 60-min clock-face. The distance out from the center is the date of the incident. The blue channel is fixed and each point added to the image in the red channel (first responder) and green channel (second responder). The block colors are added according to the targets response times set by the London Fire Brigade (first response on-average <= 6 mins; seconds response on-average <= 8 mins; 95% of all incidents attended within 12 mins).

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