This month’s issue a tribute to the data visualizations of coronavirus. This crisis has shown us a lot of not-so-great stuff. But it has also revealed the power of data viz. The now-famous “flatten the curve” chart made it possible to easily communicate how individuals’ actions can change outcomes.
Great data visualizations help us understand the abstract and process the world beyond our immediate experience. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below. Share widely!
Very Interesting Visualizations
“Flatten The Curve” Explained.
If you’ve been on the Internet at all this past week, you’ve heard the phrase “flatten the curve.” Behind every great data viz is a great story (they say that, right?). Well, this Fast Company article, which includes the gif that launched a million social distancers, explains the history behind everyone’s favorite coronavirus graphic. The idea here is if we pretend the coronavirus is no big deal and continue on with business as usual, we’ll see a large spike in the number of cases, peaking well above a dotted line conveying healthcare capacity. If we don’t panic and stay safe, we’ll see the number of cases smoothed to a long, low hill that doesn’t overwhelm our hospital system.
Comparing Cases By Country.
A new data visualization tool using data from Johns Hopkins compares how case totals have risen over time in different places. This gives us a good idea about how the trajectory of outbreaks in different countries has progressed.
What The Exponential Curve Means For the Virus.
At a time when we’re all trying to understand something abstract, like a global pandemic, data visualizations can help us make sense of it all. And they wrap all the facts up nicely in a neat visual. I especially appreciated the simulation in this Washington Post article about the “exponential curve.” Cheers to graphics reporter Harry Stevens who put together this amazingly well-conceived simulation of how different types of coping strategies impact infection rates.
The History of Pandemics.
I can’t decide if this graphic is making me more or less frightened. But this particular data viz from Visual Capitalist does an excellent job of comparing pandemics across history. My takeaway: Things aren’t as bad as they could be, but there’s the potential for things to get a lot worse.