Visualising the UK terror threat

Postgraduate students

Matthew Baxter, Ryan Graham, Aya Kanafani, Anqi Li and Chunxizi Peng (MA Design students)


Terrorism represents one of the most pressing contemporary security threats. As a consequence, governments provide information to the public on threat levels and on how to respond to terror incidents. To effectively reassure the public, and to increase their vigilance, it is essential that the information communicated is accessible, clear, actionable and engaging.

This is the first empirical study in the world, which brings together Information Design and Security Studies, to explore the impact of information design principles and visualisation of information on the communication of security information related to terrorism.

Specifically, the study provides evidence that static infographics and motion graphics have a positive impact on the UK public’s ability to find information on, and their knowledge of: a) the UK Terror Threat Level system; b) other additional national security information such as how to be vigilant regarding terror threat; and c) how to react in the event of a bombing terrorist attack.

By extolling the virtues of enhanced communication of important security information, this study would ensure that the public are better informed, reassured, and hence have a greater sense of control over their response to the terror threat. Additionally, by empowering them in this way, the public could be more vigilant and thereby able to better contribute to the security of their communities and nation. Furthermore, the findings of the study have direct practical implications for security agencies in the UK, as well as those in countries around the world.

Publications and outputs

As part of this project a range of motion graphic and infographic solutions were produced, you can view them here.

Journal article: 

Lonsdale MDS, David L, Baxter M, Graham R, Kanafani A, Li A, Peng C. 2019. Visualizing the terror threat. The impact of communicating security information to the general public using infographics and motion graphics. Visible Language, 53(2). Access the journal