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Lauren Snyder

Graduated: August 21, 2021

Thesis/Dissertation Title:

Improving Design and Usability of Interactive Vulnerability Mapping for Global Health Preparedness

Global health preparedness –the ability of organizations and governments to anticipate risks and respond to disease outbreaks– presents both an imperative and a challenging opportunity for public health informatics interventions. Addressing risks of vector-borne and zoonotic disease (VBZD) outbreaks is especially complex as it involves the careful integration of human, animal, entomological, environmental, and infrastructure data. Presentation and understanding of those risks require usable tools and technology. Spatial Systems for Decision Support (SSDS) are a type of visualization tool that enable public health practitioners to make critical decisions informed by timely access to pertinent, analyzed data. In my dissertation research, I introduce a new type of SSDS, interactive vulnerability mapping tools, which can help decision makers in global health preparedness identify spatial areas that are at risk for VBZD outbreaks and have a lower capacity to contain spread. Decision makers include epidemiologists, public health planners, vector control specialists, and directors, who might use this information to allocate vaccine resources or plan intervention activities to high risk regions. Unfortunately, SDSS tools are not routinely developed using a human centered design (HCD) approach, and there is a lack of deliberate consideration of sociotechnical factors. In my doctoral research, I have applied principles of HCD and information visualization to design and evaluate the usability of interactive mapping tools for dengue vulnerability in Peru (Aim 1) and Rift Valley fever vulnerability in Kenya (Aim 2). To situate my Aim 1-2 findings in the literature, I conducted a scoping review of SDSS for VBZD preparedness (Aim 3) that describes data, users, technology, and use cases in published SDSS studies as well as gaps in the existing literature. This work contributes: 1) usable SDSS tools designed for public health decision makers in Peru and Kenya, 2) empirical data on the design, data visualization preferences, usability, and acceptance of SSDS for disease vulnerability in global health settings, and 3) a reproducible search of the literature on SDSS for VBZD that maps the current state of the literature, characterizes health informatics factors, and identifies opportunities for future research.


Andrea Hartzler-Chair, Uba Backonja, Nancy Puttkammer, Peter Rabinowitz, Christopher Adolph