Welcome at the web hub of Wouter Van den Broeck, a researcher/designer/developer that operates at the intersection of science, design, communication, art and technology. Enjoy and don’t forget to follow @addith to stay up to date!

Visualizing bird migration data from weather radars

Last month we went to Amsterdam to address a visualization challenge put forward by the European Network for the Radar Surveillance of Animal Movement (ENRAM). These good people are working towards an automated Europe-wide bird migration observation system using weather radars. There are plenty good reasons for doing so, not the least because birds tend to migrate at night, making them hard to observe visually. For this project we got to work with a dataset containing observations from 5 weather radars in Belgium and the Netherlands over a 7-day period. You can see both static, interactive and animated results on timamp.github.io.

Now image this on a Europe-wide scale…

Two example visualisations of bird migration flowpaths over Belgium and The Netherlands.

WIRED describes the visualizations in GLEAMviz as ‘mesmerizing’

Yesterday WIRED posted an article featuring the GLEAMviz data visualizations I worked on at ISI Foundation, describing them as ‘mesmerizing’.

A screen grab of the concerned WIRED article.

Unfortunately the concerned graphics are incorrectly attributed. They are in fact the result of a collaborative effort by developers and scientists at both the ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy and the Mobs Lab at Northeastern University, USA, with the support of both European and American research funding agencies.

To end on a positive note:Bill Gates seems to like our work, given his tweet and facebook post.

Epidemic Planet in the British Library

The Epidemic Planet visualisation/installation is currently on show in Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight, an exhibition on scientific data visualisation. The show explores “how our understanding of ourselves and our planet has evolved alongside our ability to represent, graph and map the mass data of the time”. It runs from 20 February till 26 May 2014 at The British Library in London.

For the new version shown in this exhibition, the GLEAMviz-team provided new scenarios with outbreaks in London and the Isles of Scilly, while I redesigned the interface and the cartographic renderings. Screenshots of the results are shown below.

This control panel is provided on a touch-screen. It allows the visitors to select and compare different epidemic scenarios. This control panel is provided on a touch-screen. It allows the visitors to select and compare different epidemic scenarios.


This cartographic animation shows the evolution of the simulated scenarios. This cartographic animation shows the evolution of the simulated scenarios.

Some appearances in the press:


Design for Information

Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations, by Isabel Meirelles.

The interactive data visualizations I worked on for the GLEAMviz project are featured in a case study in this new book on information design (page 74-77).

Design for Information: An Introduction to the Histories, Theories, and Best Practices Behind Effective Information Visualizations, by Isabel Meirelles.

Directing the program

Sometimes situations evolve at warp speed. After one year of teaching, I became the program director of Multec, the new professional bachelor in multimedia and communication technology at the Erasmushogeschool Brussel. I replaced Frank Lanssens, who became the director of the new Design & Technology department that hosts the Multec program.

Teaching Creative Programming at Multec

In october I started teaching Creative Programming in the brand new Multec programme at the Erasmus University College in Brussels. This programme aims to train professional bachelors in multimedia and communication technologies. In this training we equally stress technology, creativity and design. My first course introduces the students to the art of structured creative programming in the Processing environment.

Multec logo



Work(shop) in progress

The workshop “Investigating the Language of Network Representations” at the École de Recherche Graphique in Brussels is well under way and the results are shaping up great. These are some pictures of the “work(shop) in progress”.

New project pages

I’ve been adding some new project pages covering:

Proposed set-up for an exhibition in collaboration with Boy & Erik Stappaerts.

Investigating the Language of Network Representations

The first in a series of workshops in which we will investigate the language of network representations, will be held in October at the École de Recherche Graphique in Brussels. Most of the participants will be students of the “Master Atelier Pluridisciplinaire Pratiques Graphiques et Complexité Scientifique”, but there are some places available for external participants. Visit narranova.org/lonr for more information.

Investigating the Language of Network Representations


I will be teaching at BIG DIVE, a four-week training program to boost the technical skills needed to dive into the BIG DATA universe. This program will be held in October in Turin, Italy.

BIG DIVE [logo]

GLEAMviz 3.0

We recently released a new major version of GLEAMviz. This application provides a user-friendly interface for using the GLEAM engine, a server-side simulator of the spreading of infectious diseases on a global scale.

Version 3 of the GLEAMviz now provides the Simulation Builder, a new interface for setting up the simulations, and two new visualizations.

Simulation Builder interface

Simulation Builder interface.

The first new visualization is based on the SPaTo visualization developed by Christian Thiemann. I adapted this visualization to fit the specifics of the infection spreading data generated by GLEAM, and reimplemented it for integration in GLEAMviz. The visualization shows the shortest-path tree among the cities with airports, either using a geographic layout or a concentric layout (with or without logarithmic scaling). Animated transitions are provided when the user changes the layout.

SPaTo visualization: geographic layout

SPaTo visualization: geographic layout

SPaTo visualization: concentric shortest-path tree layout

SPaTo visualization: concentric shortest-path tree layout

The second new visualization uses an interactive 3D representation of the world. The incidence spreading is shown as an animated texture, while the initial seedings are shown as 3D arcs.

GLEAMviz 3D Globe visualization

GLEAMviz 3D Globe visualization

Accompanying this new release I also worked on a new gleamviz.org website and promotional material.

New GLEAMviz.org website

New GLEAMviz.org website

Epidemic Planet at CosmoCaixa Barcelona

An updated version of our Epidemic Planet exhibit is currently shown in the Epidèmia show in CosmoCaixa, the awesome science museum in Barcelona.

Sample of the side-by-side maps with the animated pandemic spread shown in the Epidemic Planet exhibit.

Sample of the side-by-side maps with the animated pandemic spread shown in the Epidemic Planet exhibit.


The touch-screen interface of the Epidemic Planet exhibit. The visitors can use this interface to select the epidemic scenarios to compare.

The touch-screen interface of the Epidemic Planet exhibit. The visitors can use this interface to select the epidemic scenarios to compare.

Picture of the entrance of the Epidèmia show.

The entrance of the Epidèmia show.


Older Posts:

Recent publications
Published on August 24th, 2011

High-Resolution Measurements of Face-to-Face Contact Patterns in a Primary School. in: PLoS ONE 6(8): e23176. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023176, August 2011. authors: Juliette Stehlé, Nicolas Voirin, Alain Barrat, Ciro Cattuto, Lorenzo Isella, Jean-François Pinton, Marco Quaggiotto, Wouter Van den Broeck, Corinne Régis, Bruno Lina and Philippe Vanhems. Simulation of an SEIR infectious disease model on the dynamic contact network […]

Infectious SocioPatterns visualization
Published on February 17th, 2011

In the SocioPatterns gallery we published a visualization of sixty-nine days of face-to-face contact activity among more than 30,000 persons based on data collected during the INFECTIOUS: STAY AWAY exhibition in the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland. Read more…

Recent papers
Published on February 17th, 2011

The GLEaMviz computational tool, a publicly available software to explore realistic epidemic spreading scenarios at the global scale in: BMC Infectious Diseases authors: Wouter Van den Broeck, Corrado Gioannini, Bruno Goncalves, Marco Quaggiotto, Vittoria Colizza, Alessandro Vespignani. This paper discusses the objectives and functionalities offered by the GLEaMviz Simulator system, comparing these with similar publicly available […]

Pixelache 2011: Map me if you will
Published on January 9th, 2011

Coming March I will give a talk in the ‘Map me if you will’ seminar at the Pixelache Festival of electronic art and subcultures in Helsinki. I will also participate in the related Mapping in Progress workshop on current mapping projects such as Practice Mapping (see this blog entry). I’m really looking forward to both opportunities […]

Futurisland project page
Published on January 9th, 2011

I’ve added a new project page on Futurisland, a project I worked on almost a decade ago (it’s absurd how time flies when you’re having fun). Futurisland was a web-based multi-user environment for kids developed in Flash. I had the opportunity to collaborate with some really good artists and developers for this project, the results of […]

Practice Mapping project page
Published on December 19th, 2010

I just published a new project page that provides an overview of the context, objectives and results of the Practice Mapping project, which took part in the Interactivos? workshop in LABoral, Gijon, Spain, in April 2010.

Recent activities
Published on December 17th, 2010

Data Driven Dynamical Networks From September 26 till October 1, we organized the Data Driven Dynamical Network workshop in Les Houches, France. We brought together a group of people from a variety of scientific backgrounds to share insights in the collection, analysis, application and visualization of data driven dynamical networks. Connecting the Dots On 22 October, […]

GLEaMviz Simulator released
Published on August 3rd, 2010

We recently released a publicly accessible version of the GLEaMviz Simulator. This client-server system allows its user to design, execute and visualize simulations of world-wide epidemic outbreaks. I have updated my related project page, providing a overview of this novel system’s functionality. You can, of course, also try it out yourself.

SocioPatterns papers
Published on July 16th, 2010

Our principal SocioPatterns paper has been published on PLoS ONE: Dynamics of Person-to-Person Interactions from Distributed RFID Sensor Networks. We also recently published two papers on the Live Social Semantics experiment in which the SocioPatterns platform was used: Semantics, sensors, and the social web: The live social semantics experiments. The Live Social Semantics application: a platform […]

SocioPatterns in ScienceMAG
Published on July 5th, 2010

Our SocioPatterns project is covered in an article on ScienceMAG.

Practice Mapping at Interactivos?
Published on April 7th, 2010

Marco Quaggiotto and myself have been preparing an artscience project called Practice Mapping. The first chapter of this project will take place during the Interactivos? Process as Paradigm workshop co-organized by LABoral and Medialab-Prado. You can read more about this project on www.practicemapping.org.

Epidemic Planet v2
Published on March 29th, 2010

I am currently working on the next version of the Epidemic Planet installation, which will be exhibited at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in collaboration with the British Society for Immunology. In this new version, visitors will observe the evolution of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic since its early origin in Mexico, and will discover how the […]

Project pages
Published on March 19th, 2010

I started adding pages in this website that provide more details on the projects I am or was involved in. See: http://www.addith.be/projects/

Data driven dynamical networks workshop
Published on January 23rd, 2010

Let me kindly invite you to join us for the “Data driven dynamical networks” workshop from 26 September till 1 October, 2010, in Les Houches, France, right next to the Mont Blanc. We will consider various aspects of dynamic networks, including the visualization of such networks.

New Publications
Published on November 24th, 2009

Estimate of Novel Influenza A/H1N1 cases in Mexico at the early stage of the pandemic with a spatially structured epidemic model V Colizza, A Vespignani, N Perra, C Poletto, B Gonçalves, H Hu, D Balcan, D Paolotti, W Van den Broeck, M Tizzoni, P Bajardi, JJ Ramasco. PLoS Currents: Influenza. 2009 Nov 11:RRN1129. Modeling vaccination […]

Live Social Semantics
Published on September 15th, 2009

We just published a new post on sociopatterns.org about our Live Social Semantics experiment. I created the following movie included in this post. It provides an overview of the user-facing functionality involved in the Live Social Semantics project, a collaboration between the SocioPatterns project and the University of Southampton partners in the TAGora project. The […]

New publications
Published on September 14th, 2009

Two new papers I’m involved in, one published recently, the other about to be published: H. Alani, M. Szomsor, C. Cattuto, W. Van den Broeck, G. Correndo, A. Barrat. Live Social Semantics, 8th International Semantic Web Conference ISWC2009. Duygu Balcan , Hao Hu , Bruno Gonçalves , Paolo Bajardi , Chiara Poletto , Jose J […]

Our Infectious SocioPatterns experiment in Science
Published on May 23rd, 2009

This week’s edition of Science magazine contains this article by John Bohannon about our SocioPatterns experiment at the Infectious exhibition in the Science Gallery in Dublin.

Interview on Epidemic Planet
Published on May 16th, 2009

This is another interview with yours truly recorded during the hectic opening of the Infectious exhibition in the Science Gallery in Dublin. This interview is about the Epidemic Planet visualization application I developed in the context of the GLEaMviz project.

Interview with Ciro and myself on SocioPatterns in Dublin
Published on May 9th, 2009

This is an interview with Ciro and myself on our deployment of SocioPatterns at the Infectious exhibition at the Science Gallery in Dublin. Notice Ciro’s dramaticity and my overt enthusiasm 😉

SocioPatterns in Dublin
Published on April 30th, 2009

Two weeks ago we deployed our most recent SocioPatterns experiment at the Infectious exhibition at the Science Gallery in Dublin. For this particular deployment we added a new feature to the RFID tags’ firmware that enables us to run live simulations on the spreading of infections among the tag wearing visitors of the exhibition. We […]

Published on April 29th, 2009

Another project I have been involved in at ISI is the GLEaMviz project, in which I’m primarily dealing with visualization and dissemination. I have for instance developed the Epidemic Planet visualization currently on display at the Infectious exhibition in the Trinity College Science Gallery in Dublin. You can read a bit more about this exhibit […]

SocioPatterns project
Published on June 24th, 2008

Since my move to the ISI Foundation in Torino, I have been busy setting up a couple of exciting projects. One of these projects is SocioPatterns. It involves active RFID tags which we use to sense social interactions, and real-time visualizations that represent those interactions.

Moving to Torino
Published on March 31st, 2008

After having spent close to three years at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) in Paris, I’m shifting gears and will join the Complex Networks unit of the Complex Systems Lagrange Laboratory at the Institute for Scientific Interchange (ISI) in Torino, Italy (locate ISI in Google Earth.) I will be joining a top-notch team whose […]