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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012 Nov-Dec;19(6):954-9. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000486. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

The EpiCanvas infectious disease weather map: an interactive visual exploration of temporal and spatial correlations.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


Advances in surveillance science have supported public health agencies in tracking and responding to disease outbreaks. Increasingly, epidemiologists have been tasked with interpreting multiple streams of heterogeneous data arising from varied surveillance systems. As a result public health personnel have experienced an overload of plots and charts as information visualization techniques have not kept pace with the rapid expansion in data availability. This study sought to advance the science of public health surveillance data visualization by conceptualizing a visual paradigm that provides an 'epidemiological canvas' for detection, monitoring, exploration and discovery of regional infectious disease activity and developing a software prototype of an 'infectious disease weather map'. Design objectives were elucidated and the conceptual model was developed using cognitive task analysis with public health epidemiologists. The software prototype was pilot tested using retrospective data from a large, regional pediatric hospital, and gastrointestinal and respiratory disease outbreaks were re-created as a proof of concept.

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