Hypercities GeoSpatial Mapping Project: Cholera in Haiti

Hypercities Overview from IML @ USC on Vimeo.

In The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson portrays John Snow as a systems-level thinker – a detective who draws connections between multiple kinds of data in order to solve real world problems. Synthesizing evidence from such diverse sources as neighborhood testimony, urban planning, and the life sciences, Snow was able to toggle effortlessly between the global and the local, providing context for his findings through the technology of the map. In this assignment, students brought the insights of Snow’s historical investigation of cholera to bear on the contemporary outbreak of cholera in Haiti, comparing the situation before and after the 2009 earthquake. Using the platform Hypercities, students worked in teams to construct their own media-rich, interactive map of the outbreak, combining both quantitative and qualitative research elements.

As this kind of systems-level thinking is integral to the work of both epidemiology and digital studies, students worked in teams consisting of students from both departments. Each team worked with one topic related to the outbreak, and was responsible for collecting the appropriate data, plotting this data on the Hypercities map, and embedding written/video commentaries where appropriate.

The four research areas are as follows (links take you to the projects themselves):

Group 1: Population characteristics (density, socio-economic status) and refugee camps (the story of the people).

Group 2: Utilities: waterways – natural and municipal; power sources; waste management. (the story of the water).

Group 3: Health system: health care services/clinics, medical schools, disease distribution (the story of care).

Group 4: International aid, international aspects, UN peacekeepers, NGOs (the story of international aid).