Three Reasons Interactive GIS Data Visualizations Get Your Message Across Faster

Last week, we were among the featured innovators at an event that brought together emerging life science companies, prospective investors, policymakers, and other people who want to significantly improve health in the Greater Cincinnati region.

We set up in a beautifully appointed conference room and began rolling a video that highlighted several of the HealthLandscape tools on a giant LED monitor. Our presentation commanded the audience’s attention.

Why? What was so compelling about these interactive maps?

We noticed that almost every person who stepped into the room engaged with what they were seeing in the same three ways:

They immediately had a frame of reference.

What did they look for first? Their neighborhood. Their community. Their landmarks. They quickly found where they belonged, and shifted their focus to the data we were presenting. We didn’t have to spend time setting up the context. They already had it.

They immediately began looking for patterns.

People began asking questions and making observations: Why are so many clustered in that area? What does that shading represent? That’s not what I would have expected there. I’m surprised that number isn’t higher. People quickly began trying to make sense of the complex data. Seeing the data geographically energized and engaged them.

They immediately wanted to take the data further.

    Once the initial observations were made, the audience wanted to dig deeper. They wanted to find meaning in the data. They wanted to not just observe a pattern but also understand why the pattern might be occurring. Is there a high level of unemployment in that area? What about poverty? Does that cluster of people with severe heart disease have access to a hospital? Because of HealthLandscape’s interactive design and full library of community data, their questions could be addressed as their mental wheels were turning, while they were beginning to imagine ways to meet the identified need.

      Our minds process visual information more quickly than textual information. One writer demonstrates this by placing a drawing of a circle next to a paragraph of text that gives a definition of a circle. Which do you have to work harder to understand: the image or the definition? And which will you remember?

      Which do you understand more quickly–the map or the table? Both show the same data.

      While any visualization has the potential to be “sticky,” GIS visualizations go one step further because viewers have the potential to make a personal connection with the data. Your audience, whether it is a community of care providers, policymakers, funders, or the very people you serve, look for where they are in relation to the data, and ask, “How does this affect me?”

      To learn more about HealthLandscape’s interactive GIS data visualizations, attend one of our regularly scheduled webinars:

      The Community Data Portal
      In-depth demonstrations of our award-winning data dissemination tool
      Thursday, October 3, 2:00 pm ET
      Introduction to HealthLandscape
      In-depth instruction on using HealthLandscape, our free online mapping tool and data library
      Tuesday, October 8, 2:00 pm ET

      Visualizing Data with HealthLandscape

      Overview of all of our data visualization tools, including the Site Performance Explorer
      Tuesday, October 22, 2:00 pm ET

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