The Many Uses for Advanced Data Visualization

From the earliest days of computer technology, the ability to visualize data has been an important part of analyzing and presenting information. For years, data visualization was fairly rudimentary, often done via spreadsheets. However, spreadsheets didn’t often let users manipulate data to view different outcomes. The next step was moving to infographics, generally a combination of images, statistics and charts designed to make a point.

Over the past decade, enterprising companies have taken the concept of data visualization to much greater levels. It now has the capabilities to handle even larger data sets and more diverse and unstructured data. Today’s advanced data visualization solutions are catalysts for understanding why specific events occurred, interpreting relationships between entities, identifying relationships and patterns and predicting future trends.

Data visualization tools from leading vendors such as SAS, Qlik and Oracle—all available on the NASA SEWP V contract—simplify gathering and analyzing large, diverse data sets. This includes the ability to interact with the data visually; view data in multiple dimensions; and incorporate animation, bubble charts, word clouds and geospatial heat maps. Users can share visualizations and results securely via the web and mobile devices.

Advanced visualization tools also provide advanced techniques like autocharting, which lets a user select the best graph for the data, along with scenario analysis, automated forecasting, text analysis, and location. Qlik has added a dimension it calls “data storytelling” to its Qlik Sense tool. This helps data analysts incorporate static snapshots, reporting, and live data to tell a story about the data to emphasize specific points.

Today’s advanced visualization tools can make a difference in many agency functions. In fact, there is really no area in which an agency wouldn’t benefit from advanced visualization:

  • In the HR offices, it can help leaders analyze staffing resources, training, onboarding, productivity, and optimizing employee management.
  • In the IT department, managers can use it to monitor application and system performance or determine what technology the agency needs to improve innovation.
  • Advanced data visualization is useful to help determine patterns of fraud, error, noncompliance and abuse. By understanding patterns, analysts can better detect fraud and predict where fraud may occur in everything from tax and revenue departments and benefits programs to procurement, unemployment, and workforce programs.  
  • Visualization is helpful in making transportation and supply chains more efficient. It can help determine the best routes for air travel by gathering years of flight data information; including point of origin, on-time records, weather, and predictive data. It can also improve fleet management by analyzing data to optimize routes and ensure vehicles are as full as possible during transport.
  • Data analytics and visualization are instrumental in improving healthcare at all levels, from financial responsibility and compliance to patient diagnosis and treatment. A healthcare organization or agency can use this technology to combine and analyze multiple data streams across disciplines to pinpoint areas for performance improvements, efficiency or cost savings. To improve patient outcomes, agencies and healthcare organizations can identify patients most likely to benefit from interventions, predict potential safety incidents and readmissions, and find patterns that indicate which patients need case management or help with managing specific diseases.

These examples are just some of the many possibilities that advanced data visualization provides. Investing in a data visualization solution via the SEWP contract is the first step an agency can take toward greater efficiency, productivity, constituent service and cost containment.