CANVAS 2014 advances science and tech of Visual Analytics in Canada
Several GRAND researchers across Canada participate in international event that explores latest tools and methods for visual data analysis.
Posted by GRAND NCE, August 14, 2014

Organizations everywhere are looking to derive valuable information from datasets that continue to increase in complexity and size. Many now look to the science of Visual Analytics (VA) – the application of computational analysis and visualization – as the most effective approach in making sense of Big Data.

At the third annual Canadian Visual Analytics School (CANVAS) 2014 (July 28 – August 1, Vancouver, BC), co-sponsored by GRAND, more than 200 academics, researchers, students, vendors, industry practitioners and analytics users met to discuss the latest developments in Visual Analytics in Canada. The event was presented by the Canadian Network for Visual Analytics (CANVAC) and the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics (VIVA).

“CANVAS was a great success in bringing all of these stakeholders together,” says conference organizer Jean-Sébastien Mercier, Managing Director, VIVA. “In the coming year, we will build on the momentum of this event and continue the many initiatives that were started at the conference.”

The five-day conference included 21 presentations, 6 panel sessions, and other activities. Twenty-four students at 10 universities in Canada participated, along with students from the U.K. who joined in a series of intense, hands-on workshops and exercises to hone their Visual Analytics skills and knowledge.

CANVAS also featured keynote presentations from leading VA researchers in the field of visual analytics – many of who are in GRAND. Under GRAND’s “Living with Big Data” theme, visual analytics forms a central area of study for network researchers.

VIVA Director and GRAND CNI Dr. Fred Popowich (SFU) gave the introductory presentation on the state of visual analytics in Canada. Other presentations by GRAND researchers included Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale (U Calgary) on the interplay between representation and interaction; Dr.Chris Collins (UOIT) on Semantics and Sentiment in Visual Text Analytics; and OCAD University president and GRAND Board Member Dr.Sara Diamond on the representation of data in visualization, sonification, data sculpting, and vibro-tactile arrays. GRAND PNI Wolfgang Stuerzlinger (York) also introduced a new project to enable interactive alternatives in Visual Analytics.

At the BRAVA Visual Analytics Workshop, held in conjunction with CANVAS, GRAND PNI Dr. Sidney Fels (UBC), Dr. Sara Diamond, and Dr. Derek Reilly (Dalhousie U) provided updates on research collaborations with universities in Brazil. BRAVA was established in 2012 to stimulate collaboration between Canadian and Brazilian researchers through a partnership between GRAND, Boeing, Mitacs, with support by Brazil’s Federal University of São Carlos. Since then, research centres and universities from around the world have participated in BRAVA collaborations and student exchanges.

Research led by Dr. Diamond in collaboration with the CAIS hospital in Brazil, for example, has been employing a prototype tablet-based visual analytics tool to capture, structure, and visualize informal healthcare data as well as caregiver networks. The technology is helping to visualize change in a resident’s condition over time through a caregiver voting process.

CANVAS 2014 also explored some of the industrial applications of visual analytics, guided by leading practitioners and domain experts. Mark Salopek, who leads GRAND’s technology transfer and commercialization initiatives, took part in a panel discussion to identify where vendor-developed VA tools intersect with university research in the science of visual analytics.