Making better maps of cancer incidence

Client:   University of California, San Francisco

Public health statistics about cancer incidence has traditionally been published at the county level. And yet many public health workers work at much smaller scales. Aggregate rates for all of San Francisco County are of little help to people trying to understand health outcomes within the city. Los Angeles County presents an even starker case for changing how we report cancer incidence. A team of researchers at UCSF, working with the National Cancer Institute, developed a new set of “aggregation zones” and they came to GreenInfo for help sharing their data in a user-friendly website. 

The result is, with data on the most common invasive cancers, easy search and downloads, and extensive documentation. The site was such a success that the National Cancer Institute and their consultants Westat asked us to make an open source template version. Now similar sites are in the works for other states, starting with Louisiana.

The project is driven entirely by CSV spreadsheet data plus simple boundary files, and we have scripted data processing that pregenerates downloadable extracts for each zone. Other features, such as print-friendly views and downloadable map images all rely on readily available open source solutions that can run entirely in the browser. 

Keeping the tech stack simple helped us turn the single site we built for California into an open source template on, which will be deployed for more states over the coming year.

Focus:   Public Health  

Services:  Interactive Solutions, Web Mapping, Website Design 

Project Years: 2019-2020

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
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