• Current Projects & Initiatives

    PressForward Pilot Partner

    Under a grant awarded by PressForward, an open-source software initiative housed at George Mason University, CDA is part of an 11-partner pilot program aimed at expanding the reach of scholarly work. Under this award, we launched our blog, Data Matters, and will revamp our quarterly publication, Journal for Data Arts

    Health Data Design Lab

    The Health Data Design Lab is mapping the flow of critical data through the global health ecosystem, identifying the places where design innovations can have the most dramatic impacts. Applying transdisciplinary design methodologies, the lab develops radical new solutions — technologies, workflows, software, and related tools — to bring doctors and patients the right data in the most effective form at the decisive moments, informing the critical decisions they must make.

    Qualitative Visualization Lab

    Through projects such as Anne Luther’s Entity Mapper, the Qualitative Visualization Lab looks at problems specific to the representation of qualitative data, such as associations and relationships between entities; economic, social, and political forces; and other data that is not primarily numerical in nature.


    Scheduled to open in June 2017, Herald/Harbinger will be a permanent art installation for a public plaza in Calgary, Alberta. The center of Calgary sits at a bend in the Bow River. One hundred miles upstream, the head of this river flows out of a glacial water system high in the Canadian Rockies. Working in collaboration with the Office for Creative Research, CDA will collect sounds and motion data from this glacier system, bringing that data to life through sound and light on the plaza.

    Past Work

  • Future of Security Conference: Ethical Hacking, Big Data, and the Crowd

    Bringing together leaders, thinkers, and designers from a range of disciplines, the FoSC was a daylong event featuring a series of panel discussions exploring the challenges and emerging technologies in our changing data landscape. PIIM hosted the event in association with the Center for Transformative Media.


    As part of the VA Challenge, PIIM developed a new visual identity for existing VA patient health records. This new UX/UI helped both patients and health providers access clearer health data, which can then be used to monitor treatments, encourage patients to adopt and then track healthy habits, and provide easily accessed medical records.

    Bike Sharing

    During his Visiting Scholars Fellowship, Environmental Studies student Luca Nitschke (Aalborg University, Denmark) researched the conditions of bike-sharing systems nationwide. By examining what works and what doesn’t about each of the examined programs, we were able to develop a data visualization of his findings that provides a tool for both consumers and decision-makers.

    American Hotspots

    In collaboration with Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), PIIM created American Hotspots for the Center for Disease Control. Using NCDP datasets, American Hotspots visualizes disaster risks such as flooding, air pollution, and earthquakes in the New York area.

    Millennium UN

    PIIM created the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Monitor, a web-based system that uses GIS and visual analytic tools that allowed the UN Development Programme to better monitor and visualize the 2008-09 economic crisis, the outbreak of flu pandemics, and climate change and their global effects. The specific project PIIM completed focused on mapping the impact of these indicators in Kenya.

    Debate Tracker

    The Debate Tracker video publishing system provided an interactive way for users to engage with electoral process. Using aggregated video from broadcasters, PIIM created a product that analyzed, scored, and visualized the topics and outcomes of each televised debate during the 2008 election.

    EHR Designer

    Using our GUI and UXD experience, we developed the open-source Electronic Health Record (EHR) Designer for the US Department of Defense. The EHR Designer improved the user experience for an existing DoD technology, making it more usable across platforms and improving its accessibility and functionality. The final product, geared towards both programmers and medical professionals, provided a more streamlined way for users to quickly create a stylized GUI that can be exported and used in a number of applications.

    Urban Climate Project

    In collaboration with Aalborg University in Denmark, we created Open Climate, a tool for planners and researchers to locate and assess various approaches to global climate change. Using World Bank Climate Data and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Models, among others Open Climate is a decision support tool that can help users find successful models and strategies for mitigation, policy, and advocacy.

    Datavis hackathon: NSF Polar Cyberinfrastructure

    Bridging the data visualization and polar communities, we hosted the Datavis Hackathon, whose main goal was to improve the use of existing polar region data sets in order to promote new discoveries and foster understanding of the critical issues facing the polar regions. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Hackathon brought together polar scientists, data scientists, and designers in a two-day event to identify the needs and challenges of the polar region and produce open-source prototypes and data visualizations to spread this information to a wider audience.

    Dynamic Books

    Dynamic Books, an application for Macmillian Publishers, was developed after extensive user research, online surveys, and competitive analysis. The final product was a GUI that supported professors and instructors in a variety of disciplines in selecting, authoring, editing, and publishing textbooks. We developed a product that met the needs of the user base while also providing a more accessible learning environment for students.

    Entity Mapper

    The Entity Mapper is an open source web application for visualizing qualitative data as an interactive node-link diagram. Developed by the Lab for Qualitative Data Visualization at PIIM, the Entity Mapper reduces the amount of time required to manually produce visualizations. The data is visualized as an interactive node-link diagram which can then be configured in a variety of ways.

    Darpa X-Data

    Under an award for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), we developed a comprehensive design guide for X-Data engineers. The guide outlined best practices for supporting user interaction, functionality, objects, and style.

    Long Term Care

    In collaboration with the National Commission for Quality Lon-Term Care (NCQLTC), we developed the Long Term Care Analysis Tool, an easy-to-use, interactive system. This web-based tool featuring mapping, blogging, and video allowed users to access public and crowd sourced information on over 15,000 US long-term care facilities.

    GMT Tool

    Fusing news, mapping, demographic data, and social networks the Geospace and Media Tool was an application developed for the members and staff of the US Congress. The GMT gave users an overview of major world events interspersed with maps, social media, full articles, and location-specific demographic data.