HCDE Sprint 6: Visualization

Screenshot of one of my visualizations in Tableau

What did you do, in words and pictures? How and why did you do it?

For this week’s sprint related to visualization, I used Tableau to create three data visualizations that would help mental health advocates and community volunteers determine what places around Seattle would need more mental health resources. I created the visualizations by focusing on data about mental health and behavioral health related phone calls from the 2015 911 Response spreadsheet.

In the beginning, I knew that a map of all the phone calls around Seattle would be useful as advocates would want to know where the calls are coming from. But when I initially made the map, I thought it seemed empty since it was only displaying locations of calls. After exploring more of Tableau, I discovered you can put another of data on the map. So I added a layer containing a heatmap of median household income to see which areas had lower income and would need more mental health resources.

(left) initial version of my map visualization, (right) finalized version with the household income data layer

For the other visualizations, I had to make many variations since I was unsure if one variation was more comprehensible than the other.

(left) heat map version of visualization for call per month by district, (right) finalized version with a more organized bar graph version

Reflect a bit on your experience. What questions did it raise? What did you like about this project, and why?

Overall, I was surprised by how much iteration was needed in order to make visualizations. I admit, in the beginning I slightly underestimated the complexity of making visualizations, mostly because I was able to come up with what to do for my first visualization rather quickly. For the last two visualizations, I got stuck on what to do. At one point I made variations visualizations of the same information instead of making completely separate visualizations.

Another surprising aspect about this sprint was finding out about how accessible it is to get data about Seattle. I sorta assumed such data about the city would be something highly confidential for some reason. But exploring the 911 Incident Response data and learning how to use Tableau was really fun. I would want to make more visualizations in the future.

How and where could you see applying this technique in the future?

In the future I can see visualizations being applied on selling price of something and it’s location. Like if I were trying to book a hotel room, I would use the visualization to see available hotel rooms, its price, and location. That way, I can easily compare prices, while saving time trying to figure out the area I want to go. I feel this visualization would also be useful for buying physical goods, like a new phones, as it can compare in store prices and location as well as listing on craigslist. Overall, I think there are many possibilities for making data visualizations, as long as there is necessary data and there are clear meaning and relationships within the data.

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