Public health’s wicked problems: Can InfoVis save lives?

IEEE-VisualAnalytics2013From the CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases:  Call for submissions



Public health is charged with assessing current and emerging health threats and issues, developing effective population-based policies and interventions to address these problems, and monitoring delivery and outcomes of public health actions (IOM, 2010 & 2008). Many public health problems, such as the obesity epidemic, HIV/STI transmission, and environmental hazards are called “wicked” due to their complexity and multi-layered causal factors at individual, group, and social levels (Kreuter, 2004). Such problems must be tackled with a mix of interventions that can include changes in health care delivery systems, community and neighborhood planning, social and educational institutions, and social and individual behavior change programs (Dahlgreen and Whitehead, 1991; Dean and Fenton, 2010). Other public health actions require rapid response and public engagement using the best data possible as it emerges in real-time, such as emerging infectious diseases, outbreaks, and emergency operations to protect public safety.

To make decisions about when and where to deploy resources that produce the greatest net benefits in complex or rapidly evolving situations, public health practitioners need new tools to integrate multiple sources of data from formal disease surveillance systems, secondary sources of geographic and demographic data, and new data streams such as real-time social media content. The field of information visualization, in which datasets are explored, analyzed, and presented through a range of graphical means, could offer entirely new ways of representing, seeing, and solving population-based health problems (Isenberg, 2011; Khan, 2009; Sopan, 2012).

We are soliciting full papers and extended abstracts/presentations across the range of focus areas of visualization, from issues in data collection for maximizing visualization opportunities, to analysis techniques, traditional and novel presentation formats, and data storytelling. Submissions should focus on the use of visualization to identify, analyze, and solve public health and related health system challenges.

For more information and to submit a proposal, click here.

Deadline:  6 September 2013

One thought on “Public health’s wicked problems: Can InfoVis save lives?

  1. Re: “Wicked Problems”, we thought that you might like to know about this book:

    “Wicked Problems – Social Messes: Decision support Modelling with Morphological Analysis”. Springer, 2011.

    You can see a description at Springer here:

    Also the article “Wicked Problems: Modelling Social Messes with Morphological Analysis”, which can be downloaded at:

    Click to access amg-2-1-2013.pdf


    Tom Ritchey

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