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The Secret Language of Data

by Director of UX at Friday on Sep 30, 2013

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In December 2008 the European Parliament and the Council adopted a framework regulation for statistics concerning public health and health and safety at work. The magnitude of data collected this far ...

In December 2008 the European Parliament and the Council adopted a framework regulation for statistics concerning public health and health and safety at work. The magnitude of data collected this far is enormous, however none of the available databases—WHO, Health-EU or Eurostat, provides a usable interface that allows users to generate customized and easy to interpret health statistics. Additionally, it is virtually impossible to demonstrate the relationship between health topics and social or environmental factors to help contextualize data and substantiate correlation or prove causation.

This case study, drawn from direct professional experience, illustrates how correlation is discernible and actionable. And how employing taxonomies and metadata to improve navigation, browsing, search and discovery results in understanding and augmented awareness.

The California Health Interview Survey and its online statistical analysis query tool, AskCHIS, have managed to bridge the gap between the collection of large amounts of health and socioeconomic indicators and its meaningful visualization. The query tool, with its simple and intuitive interface, has effectively become a benchmark for health data statistical analysis tools that are usable across a variety of backgrounds and skills.

A rigorous taxonomy of variables, questionnaires and data dictionaries entries, in addition to meaningful metadata give the users the option to browse the full hierarchy of terms and categories or use keyword and phrases search. Supporting documentation—in the form of methodology papers, survey topics, questionnaires and data dictionaries, helps to contextualize research.

Talk presented at EuroIA in Edinburgh, Scotland on 9/28/2013.

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