Apart from an endless number of video calls, another thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed us to is an overwhelming number of maps, dashboards, line charts and info-graphics, all of which are aiming to help you make decisions about the Coronavirus.
I would argue up front that mere numbers alone mean very little to anyone, especially without context and any visualisation is certainly an improvement. However not all visualisation is created equal.
What we would like to know is what is the chart / map / info-graphic that has actually helped you make a decision? What has helped get you to the 'so what'?
I have included three examples below to prompt your thoughts but I would love to hear if anyone has found one that has really supported them in a meaningful way?
Example 1: The live dashboard
There has been no shortage of dashboards produced to display the scale and numbers associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) dashboard and map burst on the scene early and was shared widely, is a great example of this type of visualisation.
This type of visualisation is very pretty and possesses a wealth of detail, I find most useful part of this whole dashboard is not the map but the daily cases graph hidden in the bottom right. Using this you are able to see the curve for individual country, which gives you a great comparison of how a country is managing at a macro level.
Example 2: Daily Info-graphic Report
This style of report is one that appeared later in the game as it seems people and organisations expressed a desire to understand in more detail what was happening at a more local level. Below is an example of a visual info-graphic that is produced daily by the Australian Government.
This is a very effective way of displaying a mix of the prevailing trends but also a daily update of cases, especially if your audience is going to be looking at the information daily.
An element of this report that I found interesting (and seems to be a bit unique) is the graph at the bottom right. The public health response measure which details by state the percentage of cases under investigation. An upward trend in this graph indicates an increase in the unknown sources of transmission.
Example 3: The daily situation report
This is the most common and also least visual of the report styles that are currently being produced. The most eponymous is the WHO Daily SITREP, with primary audience of medical professionals and large organisations. This type of report is heavy on detail and numbers and provides an 'authoritative' statement on the status of the pandemic across the world.
Early in the pandemic I was reading these daily as there were very few authoritative sources to draw upon and there was a lot of uncertainty in the media as to what Covid-19 actually was. As governments got a hand on their response I moved away from this a source and migrated towards government sources from around the world as these gave more tangible details about the measures that were being taken on a country by country level. These sources became more useful to inform decision making.
So what has worked for you? What have been using to make decisions?