An example of one of the data visualizations from San Diego State University's Center for Information Convergence and Strategy.
An example of one of the data visualizations from San Diego State University’s Center for Information Convergence and Strategy.

With keynote remarks by Rep. Scott Peters, San Diego State University on Friday inaugurated a new center that will use data mining and advanced visual techniques to help industry, government agencies and emergency responders.

Andre Skupin and Akshay Pottathil, co-directors of the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy, showed how base maps overlaid with data can reveal “hidden patterns and relationships” that can guide decision-makers.

Rep. Scott Peters speaks at the opening of the Center for Information Convergence and Strategy. Photo by Chris Jennewein

The directors showed how information as varied as musical styles, the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, cell phone use and medical research trends could be laid out in map form.

Skupin said the center uses geographic concepts to visualize data and trends that don’t involve geography.

“What we have here is very diverse data turned into visualization for practical use,” he said.

Peters said it is appropriate for San Diego to lead the way with a collaborative approach to visualizing information, noting that it could help in Washington.

“People ask me what is the most surprising thing about Washington, DC. It’s the culture. San Diego has a collaborative culture. We are very comfortable sitting around the table and addressing solutions,” he said.

Officials expect that when a natural disaster strikes, agencies can call upon the center for help in quickly visualizing the extent of a problem.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.