Yikes, a year since the last post! We have been busy….
Two projects we've been working on officially launched recently. Each is very different from the other, but both are grounded in taking expansive datasets and analyses set against geography to reveal socioeconomic challenges:
- My Healthy Community is an expanded Environmental Public Health Tracking Network application that brings substance use, infectious disease, air and water quality, lifestyle, and other related health information together to tell a visual story of population health, often down to the neighborhood level. A project for Delaware Health and Social Services.
- Water, Peace and Security Partnership Global Tool predicts conflict within geopolitical areas based on water scarcity. Using global data sets to feed a predictive model, we helped develop an interactive map to explore conflict forecasts and related, supporting information. A project for the World Resources Institute.
The origins of My Healthy Community were simple: create a data tracking network where citizens of Delaware could find information on public health phenomena by examining a variety of datasets, brought together under one query interface. Crime reports, childhood lead exposure, diabetes prevalence, Hepatitis C, tobacco use patterns, and many more, all correlated to geography. But vast datasets alone are not necessarily useful to the public, and powerful ad hoc query tools are not necessarily helpful: it's easy, for example, to allow a user to bring two data sets together, spot obvious correlations, and jump to the conclusion of causality. Instead, we worked with DHSS to find narratives, statistically sound presentations, and put together a data exploration interface that allows users of the site to examine state, county, towns, and neighborhood reports. The interface protects against the disclosure of personal health information by internally checking data set sizes for the requested information, and limiting scope of the results - an algorithm certified by a third-party as HIPAA-compliant.
We've long admired the World Resources Institute for their mission, broad reach, and consistently innovative use of science and technology. As part of their Water, Peace and Security Partnership, WRI developed a predictive model that links water scarcity with political conflict across the globe. We worked to create a vehicle to present the results, highlighting conflict risk layered with the many related data sets available from Resource Watch in a dynamic, map-based visualization.