A Picture Paints a Thousand Data Points: Inspiring Bay Area Health Improvements through Data Visualization



Story maps are like giving anyone and everyone a canvas. All of these pieces you can put together to tell your own story.

Marta Jankowska, PTBi Researcher

See more images from the event on our Facebook page!

For our October Collaboratory we ventured into the world of data visualization and story maps. Hosted by PTBi Researcher Marta Jankowska and her team from the Qualcomm Institute at the University of California San Diego, the workshop was a hands-on opportunity to demo the researcher's new, open-source health data mapping tool for Oakland and San Francisco. The tool is a clone of the version the team created to explore preterm birth rates in Fresno County. Dr. Jankowska described, "If you've ever tried to write a grant, and thought to yourself, 'Man, I just wish I could show this instead of write it' then this is the tool for you". 

The second part of the workshop instructed participants on how to use Environment Systems Research Institute's (ESRI) Story Maps. According to ESRI's website, "Esri Story Maps let you combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content. They make it easy to harness the power of maps and geography to tell stories." The workshop facilitator's used story maps as a format to showcase the data gathered from their mapping tool. To illustrate the impact of the combined platforms, they showcased a storymap they created on the history of redlining the in Bay Area. One facilitator explained, “Proceed with caution because these maps will make you see red. It can be very triggering.” Together, the narrative and the visualized geographic data produced a dramatic understanding of how such racist policies still dramatically impact health outcomes.

Learn More:

Mapping Risk and Resilience for Premature Birth in Fresno County

An Online Geographic Data Visualization Tool to Relate Preterm Births to Environmental Factors


Jessica Block

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a geospatial research scientist who investigates the relationship of the environment with public health and human behavior. She works to understand health issues using biological, social, medical, and environmental data to understand the outcomes of our health from cells to society. 

Marta Jankowska

Marta Jankowska

Marta Jankowska is an assistant research scientist and Geographic information system (GIS) specialist at the Qualcomm Institute, University of California San Diego. Her expertise is in spatial analytics including GIS, GPS, and spatial statistics as applied to health-related problems.

Jay Yang

Jiue-An (Jay) Yang​

Jay Yang is a geospatial data scientist and developer of the Health and Data at Scale Collaboratory (@hdscalecollab) in the Qualcomm Institute/Calit2 at University California San Diego. He is passionate about making data alive and accessible with visualization and analysis.