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Tracking the Pandemic: Data Visualizations Play a Critical Role

Profile picture for user Mike Madison
Mike Madison Senior Strategist
April 13, 2020

People everywhere are looking for answers on the why, how, and when of the spread of COVID-19. Like everyone else, we’ve been equally invested in finding information that is authoritative, scientific, and easy to understand. We're all relying on visualizations and models that are driven by vast amounts of data being collected in near real-time; these sites are critical to keeping the public informed and help governments at all levels make fact-based public health decisions.

The best visualizations and other pandemic information is driven by vast amounts of data behind the scenes. We’re sharing a few sites here that our team has found useful. I'm placing them into two broad categories: visual and interactive (useful for everyone) and data repositories (useful for developers and those with a deep interest in aggregating and reusing datasets). 

Our previous work in the data & visualization space involved tools for financial analysis or using data to create visuals that guide users to deeper content. Here we're paying tribute to websites that are informing and inspiring us, both as average citizens trying to understand the pandemic and as a technical and design team building a portfolio of storytelling with data.

Visual and Interactive

A set of sites for everyone to learn more about the spread of COVID-19, and how to mitigate it.

1. Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center (map + resources) 

The JHU CRC page contains the most important information right up front: a map and list view of countries most afflicted by the virus; the map and supporting content provide both provide deeper links to supporting information. This Johns Hopkins resource is one of the most cited and respected for in-depth data and analysis, and provides both core data and predictive models. Besides the map, there are a wealth of resources including disease facts, videos, expert opinions, and other news & information. The JHU site is indispensable both for the source of its expertise and for the usefulness of its visualizations.

JHU Coronavirus Resource Center Map Landing Page

 

2. New York Times Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak

The New York Times interactive tools have been among the best at explaining global trends around a number of important topics including the economy, migration, politics and now, a pandemic. This consolidated resource area provides a view of regional, state, national and international disease progression patterns. These visuals are augmented by clear design cues and in-context narrative that helps explain the nature of the data and how best to use it.

 

New York Times Coronavirus Map

 

3. US Health Weather Map: KINSA Insights

This is a unique view of potential COVID spread, with an important caveat. The map tracks the reporting of temperature data from app-connected thermometers made by Kinsa. As such, it is only tracking what is known as "atytpical illness", so these numbers help you gather a sense of where people with abnormally high body temperatures are clustered. And while it cannot say if those clusters reflect actual Coronavirus infections, it could be a useful data point for this and future influenza reporting. 

US Health Weathermap by Kinsa Insights

 

4. COVID Act Now

This site provides key information on what you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19 and helps users quickly understand state public health policies, such as stay-at-home orders. Created as a collaboration between scientists, public health officials and health care providers, this is an important resource to help people understand and advocate for public health measures to combat the pandemic.

COVID Act Now Resource Site

 

Useful for Developers

Links to data repositories and models to help developers understand and use data for visualizations and education.

1. Corona Data Scraper

"Corona Data Scraper pulls COVID-19 Coronavirus case data from verified sources, finds the corresponding GeoJSON features, and adds population data."

2. COVID-19 Policy Alliance

Provides a data model that provides risk factors comparison for states.

3. COVID Mortality Tracker by US State

This resource "compares mortality data from individual US states, counting from the day their 10th death was reported. It includes data from Italy and from the US as a whole for comparison."

 

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