Public Health's Wicked Problems: Can InfoVis Save Lives?

In conjunction with IEEE VIS 2013
(IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technology, Information Visualization, Scientific Visualization)
October 13, 2013 Atlanta, GA, USA

Call for Participation


Public health is charged with assessing current and emerging health threats and issues, developing effective population-based policies and interventions to address these problems, and monitoring delivery and outcomes of public health actions (IOM, 2010 & 2008). Many public health problems, such as the obesity epidemic, HIV/STI transmission, and environmental hazards are called “wicked” due to their complexity and multi-layered causal factors at individual, group, and social levels (Kreuter, 2004). Such problems must be tackled with a mix of interventions that can include changes in health care delivery systems, community and neighborhood planning, social and educational institutions, and social and individual behavior change programs (Dahlgreen and Whitehead, 1991; Dean and Fenton, 2010). Other public health actions require rapid response and public engagement using the best data possible as it emerges in real-time, such as emerging infectious diseases, outbreaks, and emergency operations to protect public safety.

To make decisions about when and where to deploy resources that produce the greatest net benefits in complex or rapidly evolving situations, public health practitioners need new tools to integrate multiple sources of data from formal disease surveillance systems, secondary sources of geographic and demographic data, and new data streams such as real-time social media content. The field of information visualization, in which datasets are explored, analyzed, and presented through a range of graphical means, could offer entirely new ways of representing, seeing, and solving population-based health problems (Isenberg, 2011; Khan, 2009; Sopan, 2012).

The goal of the workshop is to bring together world-class public health and information visualization experts and curious learners to discuss how the fields can come together to generate new tools for emerging and longstanding public health problems.

All registered attendees of IEEE VIS are encouraged to attend the workshop, with a special invitation to public health professionals who are interested in data visualization techniques to attend the conference in Atlanta.


Susan J. Robinson, Georgia Institute of Technology
Marty Cetron, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Hazel Dean, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Bradford Hesse, National Cancer Institute, NIH,
John Stasko, Georgia Institute of Technology.
Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland,
David S. Ebert, Purdue University,

Workshop Contact Email

Please contact Susan Robinson,


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