Data visualization in a time of pandemic - #5: On top of the outbreak with daunting dashboards

Title: data visualization in a time of pandemic

Chapter 5: On top of the outbreak with daunting dashboards

There’s so much coronavirus data out there – and more is being generated every second. In order to keep the overview, or at least keep some of our sanity, many organizations and individuals have created dashboards. Rather than being a lengthy, descriptive overview, this chapter will point you to some of the best dashboards out there. For those who want to stay on top of things, even during these crazy times.

Dashboards by official organizations

The WHO maintains a Situation Dashboard. This one was recently updated to a much brighter and cleaner design. Make sure to scroll down to see more than just the map! Especially the breakdowns by country are a great addition:

Country breakdowns for the number of cases on the WHO Situation Dashboard

Country breakdowns for the number of cases on the WHO Situation Dashboard.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe also maintains a dashboard, albeit of somewhat dubious design quality. Nevertheless, it contains some interesting gauge graphs (created with Infogram) to illustrate how much the most affected countries contribute to the total number of cases in Europe:

Gauge graphs indicating the contribution of the most affected countries to the total number of cases and deaths (Source: WHO Regional Office for Europe)

Gauge graphs indicating the contribution of the most affected countries to the total number of cases and deaths (Source: WHO Regional Office for Europe).

The European CDC (Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) has its own dashboard, although in my experience, it is rather difficult to navigate, with a complex layout, a few visual bugs and some counterintuitive (sideways) scrolling which makes it difficult to quickly find the numbers you are looking for.

These are not the numbers you're looking for

Dashboards by experts

No, we are not talking about the many armchair virologists or epidemiologists popping up on social media or Medium. This is the real stuff: dashboards created by universities, groups of universities, or teams of experts.

Johns Hopkins University – of course, who else – has probably the most well-known dashboard on COVID-19, built in Ember.js. The focal point of this rather gloomy-colored dashboard is a bubble world map with different viewing options including confirmed cases, active cases, incidence rate and case-fatality ratio. The map is somewhat difficult to read for certain heavily affected regions, but can easily be zoomed in on:

Cumulative confirmed cases in Europe as visualized on the JHU dashboard

Cumulative confirmed cases in Europe as visualized on the JHU dashboard.

Around the central map, smaller boxes provide additional information, tables and graphs – the most macabre of all being the total number of deaths – 110.042 at the moment of writing this post…

General overview of the JHU dashboard

General overview of the JHU dashboard.

The Johns Hopkins dashboard also has a mobile-friendly version.

Other noteworthy expert dashboards include:

Novel Coronavirus Healthmap

If you ever wanted to look at coronavirus data from a different perspective…

Article-like dashboards

As you probably know by now I’m a sucker for beautiful examples of data journalism. An overview of dashboards would not be complete without mentioning some excellent articles summarizing our information about the outbreak:

Financial Times small multiples

More small multiples! MOAR! (Source: Financial Times)

Other initiatives

And finally, some other noteworthy initiatives:

  • The Coronavirus Dashboard by Avi Schiffmann and Jensen. Currently at the top of the Google results if you’re looking for coronavirus dashboards, well done!
  • Vinícius Henrique Neves created a dashboard in Microsoft Power BI.
  • Bing created their own dashboard, which adds some relevant news items and videos to the mix, as well as some interesting treemaps and strip charts:

Treemap and strip chart on the Bing COVID-19 dashboard

Treemap and strip chart on the Bing COVID-19 dashboard.

This is a multi-chapter blog post!

Continue reading:

For all your comments, suggestions, errors, links and additional information, you can contact me at or via Twitter at @koen_vde.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or a virologist. I am a physicist running my own business (Baryon) focused on information design.

Read more:

100000 deaths blog post cover

Data visualization in a time of pandemic – #6: Viral scrollytelling

In this final chapter, we’ll dive deeper into some of the insightful stories which have been published about the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than looking at single charts, we’ll highlight some long-form stories about the origin of the virus, how it works, and how it spread.

More info

dashboard illustration

Five steps towards improving your dashboard

Today I would like to share with you the five steps I usually follow when I analyze and improve dashboards. If you are planning to analyze and improve your own dashboard, or maybe the dashboard someone else created and you want to provide feedback on, you could follow these five steps as well.

More info

Dear Data book inside

Dear Data: Dataviz book review

Last February, on a cold and rainy day, I received the Dear Data book as part of a Dataviz Drawing workshop by Stefanie Posavec. A pretty large and heavy book, the kind you could put on your coffee table to show off (which I did!). Let's review it!

More info

datawrapper featured image

Data visualization tools: Datawrapper

If you are writing articles online and need to quickly insert beautiful, interactive charts, maps or tables, Datawrapper is the tool you are looking for.

More info

waffle chart about waffles

Uncommon chart types: Waffle charts

If you thought a pie chart was the only food-related chart type out there, think again! Waffle charts are a great alternative.

More info

We are really into visual communication!

Every now and then we send out a newsletter with latest work, handpicked inspirational infographics, must-read blog posts, upcoming dates for workshops and presentations, and links to useful tools and tips. Leave your email address here and we’ll add you to our mailing list of awesome people!