Demystifying Seven’s ‘Screen of Dreams’

Cyrus Doomasia explains that Seven's "Screen of Dreams" uses tech from the same developers behind CNN's "Magic Wall."

CNN’s “magic wall” gave John King the edge on election night in the US election and now Seven is turning to technology by the same developers for its election coverage tonight, anchored by Mark Riley.

US software designers InterKnowlogy, are behind the tech for Seven’s ‘Screen of Dreams.’

Head of Delivery, Cyrus Doomasia (pictured top left), tells TV Tonight, the app turns data into visuals that make information easier to understand.

“It’s really important to democratise data, and make any information easily accessible to everyone. As you can imagine, data is often complex, and it’s often boring. So how do you take large amounts of data, like, for example, elections data in this case, and make it interesting for the user of the system?” he asks.

“We’re all visual creatures, so anytime you can show things visually, it sinks in with the viewer. So it’s helping Mark Riley to visualise data in an easy to understand digestable manner, and also to help make decisions.”

Maps will include state and territorites, individual seats and with incoming data from the Australian Election Commission.

“We’ve already ingested the historical data. So Mark Riley can go into 2019 and show a comparison when a seat is this flipping… then we have census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which will show you things like gender splits, median age, and so on,” he continues.

“But you don’t want to see a lot of data on the screen, because that overwhelms the end user. So we try to keep it as clean as possible so that you can get the story around it.”

Riley is joined by Sunrise‘s Natalie Barr and Seven News anchor Michael Usher, with Chris Reason and Angela Cox in Coalition and Labor headquarters. Panelists will include Jason Clare, Senator Katy Gallagher, Chris Bowen, Christopher Pyne, Michaelia Cash and David Littleproud.

Rehearsals have been underway at Seven’s studios in Eveleigh, including worst-case-scenario plans in case of a tech failure.

“On Thursday, we had a dress rehearsal with the AEC where we did those kinds of scenarios, with a temporary loss connection, and a permanent loss connection. If it’s a temporary loss of connection, then of course things will just go back once the connection is restored, and you wouldn’t see any anything differently. But if there’s a permanent loss of connection, then unfortunately, we’d have to stick with the last set of data that we got.

“I will be in the studio, and hopefully it will be very uneventful for me. That’s what we are striving for. For an election it will be interesting, but from a technology side of things, boring is a good day!”

All times AEST:
4pm Seven News at 4
5pm Australia Decides: Your Vote
6pm Seven News
7pm Australia Decides: Your Vote


8 Responses

  1. The difference between ABC and 7 was that ABC had a cleaner screen, operated and analysed by someone who has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and computing and a Bachelor of Economics with honours in politics from the University of Sydney, and Seven had political journalist. From what I could bear to watch Seven’s attempt was a mess. Curiously ABC called it at 9:25 followed by 7 a few minutes later. The numbers 7 was displaying earlier were nothing like the others, and clearly were wrong.

    1. I didn’t see seven but having watched the CNN version comprehensively during the last US election, the screen takes a lot of practice and John King got progressively better (remembering the US election took a few days to call).

  2. Would love an update David on what happened with Seven’s data last night. Early on their numbers on the bottom of screen seemed to be way off, at odds with the ABC with LNP well in front. Then they disappeared for a while before reappearing later in the night, more in line with what the ABC was running. ABC seemed to be a little behind the pace as far as crossing to candidate’s victory speeches. When Zoe Daniel was celebrating live on other networks, ABC’s panel were gas bagging on.

  3. We should call it “Screen Of Nightmares” as Mark Riley was clearly having trouble in operating the info on screen. Maybe more rehearsal time for Mark to get it right. Quite embarrassing to watch.

  4. The CNN one was excellent and as best I could tell, was better then say NBC as CNN was able to easily compare voting districts which are yet to be counted (ie districts within a seat) and look at their historic data (were they 46% dem or rep last cycle), demographic changes since the last election (for eg. with inferences that younger vote blue etc) within the micro district etc, and “predict” an outcome. My memory was this was at least directionally accurate. In the US, voting is not compulsory adding a big variable to their elections which should make this even more close to the mark for Australia (all else being equal). For political junkies, it was fantastic viewing. The screen does take some practice so hopefully whoever is the screen master, is very familiar with how to navigate the contraption.

  5. So why is 7 the only one using this new space age technology? Is it really any better than what 9 & the others are using? We know 7 love to big note themselves as being the greateat at everything.

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