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Data Visualization and COVID-19

Visualizations are useful in communicating information from complex data sets. Never before has this been more important than the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is data visualization and why is it important?

Data visualization, also known as “dataviz,” is the graphical representation of information derived from data. Dataviz is particularly useful in the age of “big” data — large and complex datasets that are too unruly for traditional methods of analysis. By showcasing the patterns and outliers through visual means, we can more easily generate conclusions and actions that best address the questions surrounding these datasets. In this video, Rockefeller graduate fellow takes us through the basics of dataviz, and how it relates to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

The Challenges of COVID-19 Dataviz

Communicating uncertainty is HARD! In just over a year, our world went from learning about a flu-like outbreak in Wuhan, China to creating vaccines against the well-characterized SARS-CoV-2 virus. The amount of scientific information and data generated during this time is unprecedented, and creating data visualizations that reflect the evolving nature of what we know about virus spread has been complicated. In this video, Caitlin discusses the successes and pitfalls of COVID-19 dataviz communications, and highlights several examples of how folks got it right.

COVID-19 DataViz Takeaways

Throughout the chaos and hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have consistently sought out any narratives and information to help us understand how the virus affects our lives. Many, from epidemiologists to physicians to politicians, have sought to shape this onslaught of data into clear narratives. Visualizations allow us to make sense of this mess of data quickly, making them a powerful tool with which to push these narratives, whether that is done in good or bad faith. Here are Caitlin’s takeaways for responsibly tracking the spread of COVID-19 while addressing the pitfalls and limitations inherent in dataviz about a pandemic.

Check out these other resources

General Data Visualization Resources

COVID-19 Data Visualization Resources

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