Brian's Project 2 Proposal


This project will aim to contrast the famous 1854 map of cholera outbreaks, made by the London researcher John Snow, with two modern VR approaches to re-visualizing the data.

The first will generate a 3D heat map of the city, with the number of deaths and infections marked by columns. The second approach will be to create a 3D revisualization of the city, with the points of sickness marked and which students can walk through.

I will try to do this project using WebVR with online multiplayer, and I hope to use this to test both the capabilities of WebVR in depicting different visualizations and in allowing for multiplayer simulations with collaboration.


At the time that it came out, John Snow's cholera map was a major advance in data visualization, which allowed the public to see and understand how diseases could spread from facilities like public water pumps. Now that our understanding of science and the technology we have to visualize our data has improved, I am curious to see what tools are better than what John Snow had, and how our technology might better understand his work and the work of his contemporaries.

Scientific Data and Comparison

I have been able to find the exact cholera death and pump data that John Snow used at this link. In addition, scans of the 2D newspaper print that he made are quite common as a point of comparison.

I think that the two different VR visualizations I have thought of will make interesting points of comparison. The heat map will represent one of the ways that data visualization has been able to advance since 1854, but the city data should be closer to what scientists at the time could see walking around the city, and might actually obscure data.

Collaboration and Visualization

The image on top represents something similar to the heat map which I plan to try to create.

The image on the bottom is similar to the city that I plan to create, though I plan for the buildings to be more monochrome so that the locations of the cholera infections can be more easily seen.

Finally, I plan to use to enable multiplayer in the visualizations, which will be in WebVR.

In-Class Activity

The planed in-class activity is to be able to show one or the other 3D visualizations in class, to compare this with John Snow's visualization, and to do this in a multiplayer space, where we can allow for collaborative exploration of the data in question.

Deliverables and Wiki Contributions

Project Timeline


Create heat map object of cholera data


Host heat map object of cholera data on Glitch or another online tool


Create tutorial on heat map objects


Get familiar with as a multiplayer VR tool


Implement multiplayer VR in heat map object


In-Class activity using the heat map object and comparing with the original 1854 visualization


Create London city visualization with marked sickness zones


Implement multiplayer in city visualization


Work on  expansions in Wiki contributions


Create relevant tutorial for multiplayer and city generation