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July 15th, 2013

Data Visualization


Wednesday, July 17, 2013
at 6:30 PM

Data Visualization

By: Michael Scofield
Asst. Professor, Health Information Management
Loma Linda University

Decision-makers often ask for “data”, but what they really want is information which will help them understand a problem or a condition around the decisions they need to make.  Yet they often do not know what data is available, what it is called, and how they might want that data or derived information expressed. 

Decision-makers don’t want to worry about granularity of data, or how it is integrated, or how it is aggregated and transformed into information. They also are not interested in the various “qualifications” of information expression (all the stuff which should be placed in footnotes), even though they should understand (as Deming put it) the “weaknesses of the data”. 

We will explore the data-to-information life cycle, and all the potential points of failure or misinterpretation along that path.  We will also look at the analysis and graphic formats and techniques through which such information is expressed for human eye-brain consumption.

The role of context (historical, lateral, etc.) is important in moving raw data towards useful information.  We shall survey examples and case studies which illustrate how important context is in understanding the true consequence of a data point. 

For example, one common characteristic of most measures of business, society, and economic activity is constant growth.  But the rate of growth and a declining share of total activity may be masked by that raw growth.  We will explore simple mathematical and graphic methods for putting raw metrics into more meaningful context. 


Michael Scofield is an Assistant Professor of Health Information Management at Loma Linda University.  He is a popular speaker, writer, and consultant in the fields of data management, data quality assessment, and data visualization. 

His career has included education and private industry in areas of data quality, decision-support systems, data warehousing, and data management.  His articles appear in DM Review, the B-Eye Newsletter, InformationWeek magazine, the Northern California Oracle User Group Journal, the IBI Systems Journal, and other professional journals.  He has spoken to over 220 professional audiences in these disciplines all over the U.S., in London, and Australia. He also has a variety of topics for general audiences.  These topics include satellite imagery, the succession to the British monarchy, and various travel topics.  He also has humor published in the L.A. Times and other journals.

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