Powerful icon matrix visualizes human resources for health to treat Ebola

There’s been a lot in the news about the US Ebola cases, most recently the case diagnosed in New York City. Reading through my morning RSS feed, this powerful use of an icon matrix from “Why Ebola is less deadly in America than in Africa?” struck me as one of the best ways of visualizing a primary reason why we should be less worried about Ebola in the US and focus on the countries, with already fragile health systems before the virus attacked, hardest hit by this outbreak.


The visual comparison of doctors per 100,000 population says more than any long paragraph about robust health systems or the importance of training medical professionals (though both would likely be packed with potent information). No fancy colors or long winded text: just a simple, well-designed visual showing the staggering disparity in the availability of health workers to fight the deadly virus.

Kudos to Vox for their great design!

Fresh eyes & why teaching data viz matters

After a month of other commitments and chaos, we’re back on the Data Viz Hub! I just finished a week at the Health Systems Research Symposium in Cape Town, where the question of how to translate research into action was front and center. Well designed data visualization, focused on creating added value for specific kinds of data users, is a powerful tool for facilitating that translation from data to informed decision making. By building capacity for visualizing information (whether its on computer or a quadrille pad), we put the power of data in the hands of the people who can use it best.

Over the course of the Symposium, I was pointed to some great resources and blogs by colleagues and Twitter, and wanted to share a few favorites here:

  • “What a Sinking Ship Can Tell Us about Data Visualization” on Journalism+Design points out how the fresh eyes of students can highlight how visualizations that may be technically unsound can share useful information, amongst other things.
  • Jeff Knezovich¬†at Future Health Systems presented on Visualizing Health Systems Data at the conference, and many of the materials from his presentation can be accessed online for those who didn’t make the trip to Cape Town. Great tools for both scraping data and visualizing it.
  • The new Data Viz Resource Guide, just posted last week, rounds up and curates many of the online tools available for everything from infographic design to color selection. Check it out in the Slideshare below or download it for your own use & please let me know if you have any feedback!