The schematic London underground map — or Tubemap — was invented in the 1930s by an electrical engineer called Harry Beck. At the time it was revolutionary. Predictably the authorities didn't like it. But the public loved it, and the Tubemap was born.

Harry, and the British public, had realised the power of stripping away information. Precise geographical information was actually obscuring the data people needed. Proper maps were noise. People didn't need to know where their interchange station was geographically — simply where it was within a sequence.

My name's Emma Saunders. Among a few software projects, I create data visualisations using a javascript library called d3. In my work, I've found people woefully underrate the power of stripping away secondary data. If they've got the data, they want to use it.

I first created a Tubemap-type graphic while working at the Financial Times in 2009. Russia had turned off the Ukraine's gas supply, and many in Europe wondered whether they would be affected. I took geographical gas pipeline data and turned it into a tubemap using Flash (the technology looks antiquated now). Hovering on one country revealed which countries supplied them with gas, and who all the intermediate countries were. It also highlighted the countries that came next in the sequence, effectively dependent on its predecessor for gas.

The next time I used the Tubemap design was while working at the then FSA (UK financial regulator) in 2012. I had been mandated to project manage the design of risk processes for the new FCA organisation. Struggling to make sense of traditional A1 thin-lined process maps, I drew my final design up on a single page of A4 using the tubemap approach. This received such favourable comment that I thought a dynamic version would be really useful for risk management and for processes. Over the years, the use cases have expanded to energy, transport, supply chain and even decision making.

So, when I became self employed, I set about building a dynamic Tubemap. I've coded it in javascript, so it can be used on virtually any web site. There are lots of plans to enhance Tubemap, but at the present time it simply represents a data input as a schematic diagram. Inputs are pairs of data, that should be read as "to...from" or "cause... effect". For example, one pair might be "Liverpool Street to Bank" since these are stations on the central line that occur next to each other. You enter as many pairs as you like and Tubemap will draw it for you, if this is possible. Enjoy!