Maps Are More Than Eye Candy

Michael Watson Ph.D Partner
Read Time: 1 minute apprx.
mapping public health visualization

We all like to look at nice graphic or visualization.  But, as it becomes easier to create nice graphics and visualizations, some have become more art than conveying information.

It is important that we remember the purpose of our visualizations.  Michael Schrage, in his HBR blog, states that visualizations should be “interfaces to interpersonal engagement.”  That, the visualization should invite discussion, provide insight and provoke new questions, and lead to decisions.

A map is a great way to do that.  A map allows you to convey a lot of information about your business and help you spot new patterns.  But, maps are also invite interpersonal engagement.  When you put data on a map, people at all levels of the organization are able to interact with it, give input, and see patterns.

As an example, a city in Pakistan helped fight Dengue Fever with the use a map (see below).

Dengue Tracking System from Technology Review

The map fully engaged all those interested in fighting Dengue Fever– government officials and citizens.  People with cell phone apps could upload trouble spots, officials could spot patterns, and the map interface allowed for greater transparency and natural oversight.