Dashboards: Topics in Design, Evaluation and Maintenance for Effective Insights of Drug Overdose Surveillance
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Data visualizations using dashboards have become a frequently sought-after tool in recent years across public health sectors as evidenced by the growing number of CSTE members and partners interested in developing and utilizing these tools. Dashboard development is challenging in public health settings due to the variety of skills required to successfully execute these public facing overdose surveillance dashboards to display jurisdictional and/or state drug overdose surveillance data for use with audiences such as the public, media partners, law enforcement partners and other stakeholders. Public health teams possess extensive knowledge of public health data reporting mechanisms, analytics, and data governance; however, they are not often well versed in the principles of data engineering and data visualization. 

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) has developed an expansive overview of foundational dashboard topics and an accompanying workbook with videos describing the process of developing a dashboard in Tableau, although the principles will apply to other platforms, and a series of tutorial videos. 

Lesson 1 Dashboards: Topics in Design, Evaluation, and Maintenance for Effective Insights of Drug Overdose Surveillance 
This resource will walk participants through common considerations when developing an overdose surveillance dashboard including topics related to data, data preparation, wireframing, and examples of dashboards. To accompay the broad dashboard guidance, a workbook is provided to give participants instructions to find data, process the data, and display the data using a dashboard visualization in Tableau or other platforms. The guidance is reinforced with five (5) short tutorial videos. 

By the end of the lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Discern data preparation elements commonly experienced in dashboard development.
  2. Understand common data sources for overdose data dashboards.
  3. List common dashboard development tools and examples.
  4. Understand common data considerations when preparing data for dashboards.
  5. Complete a wireframe of their dashboard concept.
  6. Create a dashboard using Tableau.

This training series was funded by CDC Cooperative Agreement No: 1 NU38OT000297-02. The content was developed in collaboration with CSTE members, CDC Subject Matter Expert contributors and Data Scientists. Views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.


  • 1.6 – Data Analytics and Assessment Skills – Manages data 
  • 1.8 – Data Analytics and Assessment Skills – Interprets results from data analysis 
  • 3.4 – Communication Skills – Disseminates messages to internal and external audiences 
  • 4.1 – Community Partnership Skills – Describes epidemiologic conditions, systems, programs, and policies affecting community health and resilience 
  • 7.3 – Policy Development and Program Planning Skills – Engages in organizational strategic planning