By Guest (not verified) 17 Jan, 2009

The Pan American Health Organization published an interactive dashboard showing the location of last week’s devastating earthquakes in Haiti. The view spans three days and makes it easy to see the sheer number and strength of the aftershocks that reached magnitude 5.9.

The huge 7.0 earthquake occurred about 15 miles from Port-Au-Prince (pop. > 1 million) while most of the strong aftershocks occurred further west near Petit-Goave (pop. 15K), perhaps saving 1000s of lives. The dashboard can be viewed on PAHO's website.

[EDIT] This visualization was made with the Tableau Public beta. The downloadable workbook does not work in any current version of Tableau (except 5.1 beta). To the best of my knowledge we're planning to release 5.1 sometime in February.


This software is great. we are using this a lot in our great organization a lot......This Haiti demo is great too...
Thank you,
Noby Augustine
New York

Are you really using the crisis in Haiti to sell your software?

Jesse. That's quite an assumption or leap to make. I found the visualization valuable in helping me understand the scope of the crisis better. Why do you assume a bad motive?

Knowing the current conditions allows those that are geographically separated to better comprehend the magnitude of this crisis. However, I would be inclined to follow-up with an analysis of the relief efforts in terms of the origination(city, state, agency, country), number of people, and financial contributions. It would be impressive to document all the relief efforts.

@Jesse - wasn't my intention. One of our Tableau Public beta customer (PAHO) posted this visualization on their website to help folks with health information. They've posted a variety of images that help monitor heath response capacity and other factors ( Our goal was to share timely information from one of our customers and to demonstrate the power of visualization... and how making data accessible online can help solve problems and share important stories.

@Antonio - thanks for the visualizations. Keep up the good work. Let us know how Tableau Public is working out for you.
@Matt - glad you found it useful.
@Eric - I'll forward your comments to Antonio.

¿What additional functionality will version 5.1 have? Let me know

I believe the magnitude scale should be logarithmic. So the markings should probably be spaced out logarithmically. Just a thought.

Thanks for all comments and recommendations.

This visualization is just a piece of information that PAHO is using in monitoring the health situation in Haiti. We will keep it updated based on the occurrence of aftershocks in Haiti region. At the same time we will improve it to better comunicate this data, for instance, a slider by Date was added yesterday Jan 21.

More information about health situation in Haiti, what PAHO/WHO and the international community are doing in term of health in Haiti is available at PAHO website (

@Eric - Thanks, yor are right, so we will be preparing and sharing a visualization with that type on analysis.
@David - Converting the manitude scale to logaritmic does not space out markings neither improve the visualization of the timeline view.

Ramon Martinez - PAHO/WHO

Hi Ramon,
I agree that a logarithmic scale will not help since magnitude is already a logarithmic scale. An exponential scale would be a proxy for Seismic Energy, which I used in this viz to draw a more striking view of the intensity of these earthquakes:

Including this in the Tableau's business newsletter is not a very good idea in my opinion. Tableau uses its newsletter to promote its software, and using Haiti's earthquake for that is just not right. I agree with Mr. O'Rourke.

Even though the business letter is suppose to be about business, I don't want the victims of this earthquake to be forgotten the same way the evacuees of Katrina were forgotten.

This is a compelling visualization, and a good example of the benefits of having visual information immediately available. People complaining of exploitation should note that it's about seismic activity, not human suffering.

A team of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake scientists has prepared an assessment of aftershocks hazards in Haiti. This reports was published on January 21, 2010 in the USGS Website (

The report states that "the aftershocks sequence of a magnitude-7 earthquake will continue for months if not for years in the affected area. The frequency of events will diminish with time, but damaging earthquakes will remain possible in the coming months. There is also a small chance of subsequent earthquakes larger than the initial shock. The sequence from the Port-au-Prince earthquake continues to be very strong and active."

Based on the statistics of aftershocks sequence at the moment of the publication of the report, USGS estimated the aftershock activity during a 30-day period beginning January 21, 2010 as follows:
+ The probability of one or more earthquakes of magnitude 7 or greater is less that 3 percent.
+ The probability of one or more earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater is 25 percent.
+ The probability of one or more earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater is about 90 percent.
+ Approximately 2 to 3 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater are expected within this time period.

The report also call the attention that any aftershock above magnitude 5.0 will be widely felt and has the potential to cause additional damage, particularly to vulnerable, already damaged structures.

Haiti - Earthquake visualization shows that up to January 27, 61 aftershocks have occurred, 15 of them are in a range of magnitude 5.0 - 5.9, representing a potential hazard to Port-au-Prince and other cities in the area. From January 21 to 27, 10 aftershocks magnitude 4.9 and below have occurred.

The report also presents near-term, long-term and regional concerns and recommendations regarding the earthquake in Haiti.