Data Driven Digest for May 15

This week’s Data Driven Digest focuses on health and well-being. Not coincidentally, all of our data visualizations feature maps; public health officials, insurance companies, and individuals are endlessly interested in where people are healthy and where they aren’t, because that information helps to guide policy, allocate resources and set rates. Maps of sickness and health can take on many forms and use many different types of data, as you’ll see.

Great Well North: The Mowat Centre, a think tank at the University of Toronto, has created an interactive map of Canada (above) that correlates and visualizes nine different indicators of well-being – including income, disability, obesity and stress – across 117 Canadian Health Regions. A color code, from light beige to deep red, shows where Canadians are doing better or worse overall; hovering over a specific region generates a pop-up with detailed data. (Just 95 regions had sufficient data across all nine indicators to be color-coded – that’s why much of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are grey – but the pop-up data still appears.) The map (described in detail here) was created by Nevena Dragicevic, Mark Jarvis, Rob Dorling, Kyle Hanniman and Emma Tarswell.


Healthy California: The Integrated Healthcare Association, a nonprofit group of California health plans, physician groups, and other healthcare stakeholders, has created an interactive map that, at first glance, resembles the Canadian map above. The difference is that the California map is based on the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) gathered by 11 health plans, correlated with demographics from the US Census. The resulting map delivers data about various cancers, diabetes, asthma, emergency hospital visits and more, pegged against statewide percentiles. Best of all, the map features a Data Export button that lets users download the complete data set, or a chosen subset, for further analysis.


Flu Down Under: As flu season begins in the Southern Hemisphere, Australian researchers are using crowdsourcing to create an “online health surveillance system” to track influenza symptoms. FluTracking (@Flutrack) works like this: Volunteers get a weekly email asking if they have had a fever or cough in the past seven days. It takes 15 seconds or less to respond; results are anonymized, correlated and mapped at (A screenshot is above, but click through for the full interactive version.)

In exchange for their time, participants get weekly updates on influenza-like activity in their area. FluTracking, led by Dr. Craig Dalton and sponsored by Newcastle University, Hunter New England Population Health and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, started with 400 volunteers in 2006 and this year has some 18,000 regular participants. Like what you see? Every Friday we share great data visualization and embedded analytics. 


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