On making information public

Blog Post created by MeganMcClain on Feb 22, 2015

I'm struggling right now with my little side project that has essentially turned into my Cartography and Basemap thesis  tracking the 2015 measles outbreak as it began in Southern California.

I have created a map showing the possible exposure sites, helping track where the meales has been heading but came across a dead end when  I was told by a public information officer that they were not tracking the places where the patients were before the outbreak.



I blogged about this on my personal blog,and am still wondering - is it useful to announce places where someone MAY have been exposed? Is it a solid piece of information to map and display?

I have several options for information, and plan on making my first draft soon with a national focus, since it is in several states.


My latest homework project is creating data model sets in my spatial analysis class- essentially, decide what kind of information to display about the 2009 H1N1 outbreak.

And as I set my query to only pick confirmed cases, I wondered that if that was indeed the most accurate way to track the disease.

Would seeing where they definitely knew it was be the most correct? What kind of information am I leaving out in regards to patients that weren't diagnosed correctly?

With my journalism background this is all so fascinating, the thrill of the hunt as I narrow down to just the facts, just the answers.


But does mapping where the disease MAY have been correct? Is it essential? Or could it create widespread panic and misjudgement toward businesses and public places?


What is the question I need to pose instead?


Exactly what I'm trying to learn to do.


Visuals in journalism is a vital part of the storytelling process. As a picture tells a thousand words, so does a map tell a story with a few moments of looking at an image.