Memorial Day Week: Use of evaluation data viz in military contexts by Lara Hilton

Hello! I’m Lara Hilton, a behavioral scientist who has conducted program evaluation in military health settings for the last 10 years. I am excited to share a few examples of how the military utilizes data visualization for evaluation and how those applications inform evaluation and more broadly impact public health outcomes.

Lara Hilton
Lara Hilton

First, here’s an interesting historical example of Florence Nightingale’s data visualizations of soldier mortality that helped save lives in the British Army, published in 1858. This graphic indicates that there were a larger number of deaths occurring from preventable diseases (Light Blue) than deaths resulting from wounds (Red), or other causes (Black). The journal was read by The Queen of England and subsequently informed public health policy benefitting the British Army and the people of Great Britain.

Florence Nightingale's data visualization of soldier mortality


A more recent example, and one relevant to our current Covid-19 pandemic context, is the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-15 which presented an immense challenge for U.S. Department of Defense and government interests as it spread in the absence of a coordinated global response. The military made critical contributions to the fight against the Ebola under Operation United Assistance including tracking real-time outbreak and resourcing data using dynamic analytics and data viz as displayed in this diagram.

USAID Ebola map


In summary, there are many domains in which military analysts use computing power for data visualization insights including: Research Security and Intelligence, Health and Medicine, Simulations and VR, Warfare, Resourcing, and Naval Engineering. Methods such as data viz can be employed in military contexts with tremendous positive impacts on morbidity and mortality.  

Rad Resource:

If you’re interested in learning more about issues in evaluation of military and veteran programs, please join our TIG via the AEA web site or contact me at

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Memorial Week in Evaluation. The contributions this week are from members of the Military and Veteran Evaluation TIG featuring contributions to evaluation with military origins but relevant to all we do. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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