Digital Project: Free Datasets + Free Software = Interactive Health Data Visualizations

We are lucky to live in a world where we can present data beyond grids and boring bar graphs. In fact, social media demands shareable, self-contained graphics with striking messages and design. I tried my hand at finding free datasets and free design software to visualize health information and wanted to share my process and the quick-and-dirty mock-up.

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PROcess

First, I reviewed data from OpenDataPhilly.org and skimmed their datasets. There seemed to be mostly spatial datasets under “Health and Human Services” but I was able to find a non-mapped dataset on air quality over 24 years.

Next, I explored the interactive data visualization platform Piktochart. The free version offers a lot of flexibility and I find the interface extremely intuitive. The presentation mode is one that I would like to use for future professional presentations, since it allows the presenter to retain the interactive components of the design (as opposed to exporting a flattened image to PowerPoint or Keynote).

After about 30 minutes, I finished an interactive infographic of air quality in Philadelphia from 1990-2014. If you scroll to the bottom and hover over the graph then you will see the interactive component. The design spurs questions such as what factor(s) resulted in the sharp decrease in days of unhealthy air quality. If an environmental non-profit wanted to use this for awareness or advocacy, then they could add an additional block of content to show how green or eco-friendly policies impacted these positive outcomes.

Finding the right data is 80% of the work and I was lucky that I found a meticulously curated dataset. What is your experience with public repositories and/or developing infographics?

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