The following is from an interview in All Things D with former Time, Life and National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan on his new book, The Human Face of Big Data.
Did you have a particular favorite anecdote or photograph?
I just came back from Australia, and they have this expression down there: Gobsmacked. I think a lot of the pictures in the book convey that feeling. There are some that are funny, some that are just thought-provoking. There’s the case of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) that creates these incredibly detailed satellite maps for governments. They found there were villages in Nigeria, which has the highest rate of polio resurgence in the world. There are villages there that have never shown up on any map, no one in the government knew they were there. ESRI can recognize the shape of huts and pathways. The Gates Foundation has been trying to eradicate polio in places like Nigeria, and they have a very big effort there. They took they satellite maps and handed out 10,000 GPS-enabled cell phones to polio workers. They could see where they were in real time, and make sure they got to each of the houses. We spent a week travelling with the polio workers watching them do their work. I think the idea of using satellites to help cure polio is a pretty interesting concept.
- All Things D
Boston's NPR station WBUR has pooled hosptial quality data from a number of sources into a single interaction map/graphic tool called Hosptial Quality in MA.
We’re hoping to kick off a broad discussion about where to find the best care, starting with this snapshot of hospital quality in Massachusetts. The scores and ratings you see on the map and bar chart below are not new. This is all public data, collected by private, state or federal agents and posted online somewhere else. We’re pooling a range of quality measures here to offer you a glimpse of how much quality varies from one hospital to the next and to give you a place to ask your questions about what the health care system will and won’t tell you about quality and why.
The tool for presentation? Tableau.
Yes, real time health data via Google searches does play a role in effectively predicting flu cases.
Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the National Center for Atmospheric Research have created a computer model that can potentially estimate the probability of flu outbreaks up to seven weeks in advance.
The model uses Google Flu Trends, which tracks the number of flu-related Internet searches in a map combined with and historical flu season data. The goal is to be able to warn people and doctors of the impending outbreak.
And, if you have not heard, the flu is getting an early start in the southern U.S. Better get that flu shot!