Data Driven Digest for June 19

This Sunday marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. As the days get warmer and longer, many of us think about getting healthier and going outdoors. Data visualization can reveal information about our health, the healthcare system that supports us, and the risks of certain vacation activities. The Data Driven Digest has collected some favorite examples over the last few weeks.

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Healthy Months: In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, scientists at Columbia University reported on a large-scale study (1,688 diseases, 1.7 million patients) that uncovered relationships between birth month and disease risk. (Read more about the work here.) The Columbia team was led by Nicholas Tatonetti (@nicktatonetti), a researcher who applies data science to medical questions; the Tatonetti Lab produced the user-friendly visualization of the study data above. The chart encapsulates complex data in an easy-to-read format and exposes outliers very quickly. We’d love to explore an interactive version so we could zoom in and find out what disease each dot represents.

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Medical Work-Up: Knowing what diseases you’re prone to does little good if you can’t find a medical professional. That’s a growing problem, according to Bloomberg News. An article titled The U.S. Economy Can’t Hire Health-Care Workers Fast Enough, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, reported that “there were about 1.8 jobs available for every person who was hired” in healthcare-related jobs. In all private industries, the ratio is just 1.05:1, as shown in the chart above. We admire how Michelle Jamrisko (@mljamrisko) presents a lot of data – including historical trends – in the article using just two concise charts.


Crossing the Chasm: Geospatial experts at Esri have shared a fascinating (if somewhat morbid) data visualization of Death in the Grand Canyon. The graphically powerful map-based visualization “helps tell the fascinating and heartbreaking stories of more than 700 lives lost. The map quickly shows patterns, clusters, and isolated incidents across the national park so we can understand how and where people died,” according to Esri’s introduction. The number on each hexagon shows how many lives were lost in a given spot; click on a number to see just how the people perished (including “critter or cacti” and “flash flood victims”). Be sure to click through to explore the interactive version. Oh, and: Yikes.

Healthy Foundations (bonus item):, the U.S. government’s web catalog of health, social services, and research data, has just relaunched on a new, more efficient technology platform. Damon L. Davis (@damonldavis) explains that the team plans to build more robust tools and dashboards based on its new foundation.

There aren’t great data visualizations to share yet, but we’re certain they’re coming – after all, the team has already issued several Big Data challenges. If you create something based on, please let us know so we can feature it on the Data Driven Digest.


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