The 1854 Map That Transformed Public Health in Urban Areas

Disease mapping made a significant leap forward in the 19th century, and data scientists and geographic information scientists are still contributing to the public health field.

1 minute read

November 11, 2017, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

London 1854

John Snow / Wikimedia Commons

A post on the Sidewalk Labs blog explains an 1854 disease map that "changed the way cities studied public health."

"While many other innovations help keep city residents safe—sewers, fire safety, and vaccines all have more immediately observable effects—the disease map stands out for its ability to change the way we think about population health," according to the post.

Earlier attempts at mapping disease outbreaks failed due to bad assumptions and faulty science, but in 1854 John Snow mapped a London cholera outbreak and totally changed the public health profession's approach to epidemiology—and contributed to a new era of urban growth and industry. (It's no surprise, then, that Snow is often credited as the "father of epidemiology".)

Sidewalk Labs shares Snow's cholera map as the latest installment in the "15 Innovations That Shaped the City" series. According to the post, practices related to data collection and mapping continue to improve, and urban populations can expect even more improvements in public health.

Friday, November 10, 2017 in Sidewalk Labs

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