Zika and Public Health Guidelines: Prototyping Models for Different Personas

Courtney Marchese
Assistant Professor of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

: In graphic design, models are material prototypes that help synthesize research into testable forms. Through experimentation and testing, many rounds of revisions are made to culminate in a visual that can effectively speak to its audience. In an age of infinite information, data visualization, particularly in global health, is a critical arena for accurate and useful visual modeling. For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has Zika Pregnancy Guidelines in the form of a flowchart (Figure A). While it is certainly a necessary model to share with the general public, it is often cumbersome and difficult to understand. Riddled with professional medical terminology, footnotes, and companion charts, the model fails to serve as an accessible form to the information most needed by its audience. In examining the CDC’s guidelines, it is unclear whether they intend to communicate with health professionals or women potentially infected with zika. Rather than using a “one size fits all” approach to the chart, I propose modeling different forms that the information can take as viewed through the lens of different people in different environments and scenarios. Each prototype will take on a persona and emphasize the most important information to a specific audience explaining what to do before, during, and after exposure to zika virus. As such, each persona also serves as a model of sorts to represent an audience segment. By prototyping multiple forms, my goal is to make critical health information engaging and clear to those who need it most. Additionally, these prototypes can serve as a model for other issues within public health communication.

Visualizing Pesticide Use in Controlling Zika

Courtney Marchese
Assistant Professor of Interactive Media + Design
Quinnipiac University

Information graphics help condense large amounts of data into comprehensive visuals. One of the most critical topics for the general public to understand is issues of public health. Zika virus has come to the forefront as one of the most threatening mosquito-transmitted diseases in the Americas, with proven complications that include microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Although there is currently no cure for Zika, there are a number of pesticides used in the affected areas in hopes of controlling the spread of the virus. In collaboration with scientists and other experts in the field, I will harvest and deliver the most important data to the general public. Through data visualization, we can track which pesticides are being used where, and how efficiently they are controlling the spread of the virus-carrying mosquitos.

My methodology in creating the information graphics is to research both data visualization techniques as well as pesticide use in the Americas as it related to controlling Zika transmission. I will also interview and collaborate with experts as I collect and analyze the necessary layers of data. From there, many iterations of potential visualizations will be created and critiqued until the best possible solutions have been created. My hope is that these graphics will help provide a comprehensive overview of the relationship between various pesticide use and the spread of Zika virus.