UN Environmental Program

Corporate Communications, Science Communications

The PufferTouch & the 'UNEP Live' platform combined to create lively discussion for a 'round table without the table' at UNEP conferences in 2015 & 2016.


The United Nations Environmental Programme promotes understanding and increases public knowledge about environmental factors and their impact. An important aspect of their work is to translate their extensive data into meaningful, easily absorbed messages that can be disseminated to organisations and citizens worldwide to stimulate discussion and affect change. They use their UNEP Live platform, a real-time mapping application based on Esri Arc GIS, to help people interpret live data concerning key environmental variables.

UNEP approached Pufferfish to explore ways in which we could help bring their data to life in a compelling display on a world globe.


Our software team developed a dynamic application that pulled UNEP maps to the PufferTouch in real time and provided an interactive interface that enabled users to explore the information by touching on the sphere. To further engage audiences, the application included controls that enabled users to access additional, detailed visualisations and rich media that explained the wider context and human stories behind each of the topic areas.

Pufferfish recommended a high-resolution PufferTouch 600 to draw attention in the busy environment, providing a manageable, easily controllable solution with fingertip touch accuracy and space to accommodate face-to-face conversation around the visual content.

UNEP was keen to encourage audience engagement to help them learn about the range of issues and to assimilate more of the data. To facilitate this effectively, we developed interactive hotspots and the ability to zoom via a touch gesture, pulling new tiles to the PufferTouch dynamically. Zooming on a spherical display is not only technically complex but also conceptually challenging and the final app addressed the challenges of no natural “window” for a zoom, how the zoom function works and performs, how to set the boundaries of a zoom and what happens in the areas outside the zoomed area.

Summary of outcomes

The PufferTouch solution for UNEP was first presented at the Eye on Earth Summit, Dubai 2015, with UNEP Live content focusing on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Air Quality Indexes and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). A second installation saw the PufferTouch used at the UNEP UNEA conference in Kenya 2016 with updated data that reflected the momentum for change following the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as an additional section on Climate Refugees showing the human costs of the climate change phenomena being seen around the world.

The resulting Pufferfish solution had a big impact on the event and created lots of animated discussion around the sphere. Its intrinsically dynamic function enabled UNEP to keep their message and content up-to-date.

Like to find out how we can make your vision a reality?

Let's get
Latest work
Related Pages

Get PufferNews direct to your inbox for future inspiration.

me up