Public health planning can benefit from visual exploration and analysis of geospatial data. Maps and geovisualization tools must be developed with the user-group in mind. User-needs assessment and usability testing are crucial elements in the iterative process of map design and implementation.
This study presents the results of a usability test of static, animated and interactive maps of injury rates and socio-demographic determinants of injury by a sample of potential end-users in Toronto, Canada. The results of the user-testing suggest that different map types are useful for different purposes and for satisfying the varying skill level of the individual user. The static maps were deemed to be easy to use and versatile, while the animated maps could be made more useful if animation controls were provided. The split-screen concept of the interactive maps was highlighted as particularly effective for map comparison.
Overall, interactive maps were identified as the preferred map type for comparing patterns of injury and related socio-demographic risk factors. Information collected from the user-tests is being used to expand and refine the injury web maps for Toronto, and could inform other public health-related geo-visualization projects.