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Enhancing Functionality of the Global Wildlife Disease News Map - Meet Version 3!

Digest and Map graphic
The home pages of the Global Wildlife Disease News Map (left) and its companion application the Wildlife Disease News Digest (right).
The Wildlife Disease Information Node - a collaborative project between the USGS Biological Informatics Program, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, and the University of Wisconsin Nelson Institute - has launched a new version of the Global Wildlife Disease News Map http://wildlifedisease.nbii.gov/newsmap.

The new version is a visual way to follow the latest reports of wildlife diseases and other health topics, such as pesticide and lead poisoning, which threaten wildlife, domestic animal, and human health in a world-wide context. The News Map displays articles on the detection and spread of wildlife disease, as well as other conditions that affect the health of wildlife. The stories that are mapped come from the Wildlife Disease News Digest http://wdin.blogspot.com, a companion product.

The new version of the News Map utilizes an innovative technology called the Exhibit JavaScript-based Framework http://simile-widgets.org/wiki/Exhibit. Exhibit is an active, open source toolset originally developed under the SIMILE (Semantic Interoperability of Metadata and Information in unLike Environments) project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Exhibit Framework greatly expands the functionality of the News Map by providing a number of new viewing options and fantastic improvements to functions from the older map versions.

Users can now interact with the wildlife disease news reports using one or more of the following methods:

Search: a search of the content in the article's Headline, Description, Wildlife Health Topic, Disease Type, Animal Classes Affected, Species name, as well as Geographic information details;

Timespan: users can limit the reports displayed by indicating the time frame for content by entering a range of days in the boxes (1 is most recent), or by using the slider to indicate the span of days of news to display;

Refine with Filters: users can click one or more check boxes within each facet for Wildlife Health Topic (e.g., White-Nose Syndrome, Climate Change), Disease Type (e.g., Bacterial, Viral), Animal Classes Affected (e.g., Mammals, Birds), Specific Species Affected (e.g., Peregrine Falcon, Yellow Perch), and a number of Geographic details such as Country, Continent, and Administrative Unit.

Another new feature of the map includes the users' ability to choose how to symbolize the information. Different "View News Report By" options are available to visualize the reports by their many data points, including Animal Classes Affected, Potential Human Threats, Wildlife Health Topic, or Geographic detail (which is the default view). Selecting one of these choices modifies the way the points on the map are symbolized with different color schemes based on that field.

In addition to the existing map view, users now also have the option to change to a sortable, tabular view of the information or an interactive timeline of the news reports. At any time, users can flip back and forth between these views because the application retains the filter selections made until the user hits the "Reset All Filters" link above the view.

Previously, the number of stories a user could explore was limited to the last 45 days. In this new version, the map has options to view longer time spans of the reports. Users can select the option to view "Reports by Disease Type," which defaults to display all articles in the last year, but also has the option for users to toggle back to the first report in the system. from 2006. Another option is to pick a specific "Wildlife Health Topic," which will display every article on that topic in the system since 2006.

For advanced map users and map makers, the default map layer (45 days of reports) is available both as a GeoRSS feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/wdinNewsDigestGeoRSS and KML format http://wildlifedisease.nbii.gov/wdinNewsDigestGoogleEarth.kmz, which allow the data to be used in other applications. Users can also copy and paste a tab-separated dataset of news reports they are viewing at any time, which includes all metadata for the reports. These data can be pasted into most spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel. For more information on accessing the data for off-site use, visit the Help page on the map.

Whether you are interested in learning about wildlife health issues occurring near you or around the world, visit the Global Wildlife Disease News Map http://wildlifedisease.nbii.gov/newsmap to see where these wildlife disease events are making the news. While exploring the map, if you have suggestions on how to further improve it, use the feedback link on the site to send in your comments.


Disease Map by Animal Class graphic
An example of one of the available map views. This view, Animal Classes Affected, shows the last 45 days of disease news reports by animal class (e.g., bird, mammal, fish).