Trinity Students Present Data Visualization Projects with Local Community Organizations

Students Team Up with Hartford Area Community Partners to Create Open Source Data Displays

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 4, 2016 – Trinity students enrolled in the DataViz seminar at Trinity College this semester partnered with Hartford-area community organizations to construct data visualizations such as interactive maps, charts, or simple apps. The students and their partners learned how to use free web tools and open source data to create simple and sustainable visualizations that can be embedded and maintained on the organizations’ websites.

Norah Do '18 (left) worked on a DataViz seminar project with Julie Geyer (right) of Capital Workforce Partners
​Norah Do '18 (far left) worked on a DataViz seminar project with Julie Geyer (far right) of Capital Workforce Partners.
DataViz is a half-credit seminar paired with an internship available through Trinity’s minor in formal organizations. The course was taught by Jack Dougherty, associate professor of educational studies, and met weekly at Trinfo.Café on Broad Street. All sessions were open to the public.

Created in 1999, Trinfo.Café offers Hartford residents free internet access, instruction in typing, resume building workshops, and more. Trinfo.Café Director Carlos Espinosa said it made perfect sense to host the seminar there because both TrinfoCafé and DataViz represent a “crossroads between community engagement and class engagement.”

Even though Dougherty has often used data visualization in his own academic work, he more recently saw the need for Hartford non-profit organizations to tell their stories via data visualization. “Data visualization means to transform static information into interactive charts and maps, so that we can tell richer evidence-based stories on the web,” Dougherty said.

The seminar offered the opportunity for Trinity students and Hartford organizations to work together. The semester-long partnerships recently culminated with final presentations that included visual displays of data, personal reflections by the students, and an overview of how the organizations can maintain the projects on their websites.

 Stacy Lam ’19 with Garry Lapidus, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
​Stacy Lam ’19 teamed with Garry Lapidus, PA-C, MPH, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Stacy Lam ’19 teamed with Garry Lapidus, PA-C, MPH, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and associate professor of pediatrics and public health at UConn School of Medicine, to create an interactive map of Connecticut towns that displayed statistical information about intimate partner violence (IPV). Lam color-coded each municipality based on the police arrest rates for IPV. Reflecting on her project, Lam noted that she not only learned how to create data presentations, but also learned about violence prevention and the crucial screening questions used to help victims. Looking beyond the course, Lam said, “I will post the instructions on Google Fusion to help Garry know where the resources are so he can update the maps, which will then be public.”

After interning with the Hartford Food System, Kaitlyn Sprague ’16, a public policy and law major, created an interactive map of community gardens, grocery stores, and other food sources in Hartford to help area residents find food in what is considered a “food desert.” “I am really interested in food inequality in low-income urban and rural areas,” Sprague said. “I find it absolutely shocking that West Hartford, a town of about 60,000 people, has at least eight supermarkets, while Hartford, a city of about 125,000 people, only has one.”

Sprague explained, “The food establishments that are classified as grocery stores or convenience stores don’t really have a clear distinction between them. It would be great to reevaluate these places based on affordability and nutrition.” Another goal that she hopes can be achieved using data found on her map is to integrate bus routes so those without their own transportation can find the best way to nutritious food options.

The DataViz seminar at Trinity was supported the Davis Endowment Intern Seminar and the Community Learning Initiative. Dougherty added, “Thanks to Trinity edX funding that will be announced soon, the next version will be offered as a MOOC (massive open online course), so that anyone with internet connection can learn - for free - through web tutorials, videos, and online quizzes.”

To learn more about the DataViz seminar at Trinity College, click here.

Written by Ursula Paige Granirer ’17