The COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak has been in the news a lot lately, and everyone is probably looking for a quick/easy way to see the data. The best visualization I've seen so far is this dashboard by Johns Hopkins. Here's a screen-capture:LEARN MORE | See all Coronavirus dashboard blog posts
But before we dive into the data analysis, let's take a fun little tangent. Here is a picture my friend Yana created as her Stay at Home response - it's inspired by an American Coronet Magazine cover from 1954. She's clever and talented, eh?!? Check out her website to see more of her clever artwork!
To Make the Best Better
When I was growing up, I was in the 4-H club. Our motto was "To make the best better" ... and I guess that stuck with me. I even apply that motto to graphs! Therefore, I decided to see what I could do to improve Johns Hopkins' dashboard. My goal was to make the dashboard easier to read and comprehend, while keeping the same look and layout as the original. Below are some of the problems I saw in the their dashboard:
Let's start with the title at the top of the page:
- Even though they are updating the dashboard as new data comes in, I think it would be good to show some sort of date/timestamp in the title.
The graphic occupying the most space in the dashboard is the map. It represents the number of confirmed coronavirus cases using red bubbles.
- The biggest problem with the map is that some of the bubbles represent countries, and some represent smaller geographical areas (such as provinces in China). While it might be interesting to see a bubble for the number of cases in the Guizhou province in China, it does not make good visual/graphical sense to compare that to the bubble for countries (such as the US) in the same map. I believe all the bubbles should represent the country level.
- Having the ability to pan and zoom the map is cool, but what I think most people would like to see is the whole world. And if you zoom out to see the whole world, the countries are very small, because there is a lot of wasted space around the edges (especially since the map includes Antarctica).
- Although you get a general feel for which countries have coronavirus, based on the position of the bubbles, it would be nice to see the affected countries shaded differently than the non-affected countries.
Total Confirmed Summary
To the left of the map is a summary count of the total number of confirmed cases, with a table below it.
- Since the table and map both show the number of confirmed cases, I think it would be nice if they used the same color, to visually tie them together.
- They used to show regions (such as provinces in China, and states from the US) in this table. Now that they have changed it to country-level summaries, they could remove 'Region' from the title and save some space.
- If the numbers were right-justified, they would be easier to read and compare.
Total Deaths Summary
The summary count of total deaths is to the right of the map.
- The biggest problem/confusion is the red bubbles - at first I thought these were somehow tied to the red bubbles in the map ... but maybe not(?). I don't see a need for them. They just add confusion.
- Some of the areas listed in the table have 0 deaths. Why are areas with zero deaths in the table?
- If the table showing the total number of confirmed cases is summarized at the country level, why not summarize the deaths table at the same level?
Total Recovered Summary
The summary count of the number of people who recovered from the virus is located at the far-right of the dashboard.
- If the table showing the total number of confirmed cases is summarized at the country level, why not summarize this recovered cases table at the same level?
The time series graph is below the map. It shows how the number of confirmed cases has increased over time.
- The biggest problem here is the layout - the graph is so wide and short that you can't tell much about what the data is doing.
- The legend occupies 1/3 of the space (almost 1/2) - the legend could be placed in a different position, and allow the graph to utilize that extra space.
- The sideways label along the y-axis is difficult to read.
The Information Box
There is an information box in the bottom/right corner of the dashboard, with links to information about the dashboard and the data.
- The main problem is that you can't see all the information without scrolling.
My Improved Dashboard!
Here's my new/improved version of the dashboard. Click the image below to see the full-size interactive version, with HTML mouse-over text. If it's too big to fit in your browser, try pressing the "Ctrl" and "-" (minus key) on your keyboard at the same time to shrink it (similarly, use "Ctrl" and "+" to enlarge it again).
Here is a list of my improvements:
- I add a date/timestamp to the title.
- The bubbles in my map all represent country totals (no provinces, etc).
- I show the full world map, and do it in such a way that it fills the entire space.
- I make the countries that do/don't have cases of the virus different shades, in the map.
- I make the numbers in the Total Confirmed table red, so they match the color of the bubbles in the map.
- I make the numbers in my tables right-justified, so they're easier to read and compare.
- I do not include red bubbles in my Total Deaths table.
- I do not show areas in the Total Deaths table, that have not had deaths.
- I summarize at the country level in the Total Deaths and Total Recovered tables.
- I move the legend inside the graph area, freeing up more space for the graph to be taller.
- I place the label above the legend, rather than up/down along the y-axis.
- And I trimmed down the information in the info box, so you can see it all without scrolling.
Which of the changes did you like & not like? What other changes would you recommend? Feel free to discuss in the comments section.
I created my prototype dashboard with SAS Software. If you would like to see all the nitty-gritty details, here is a link to the complete SAS code I used.
Update (Feb 5, 2020)
Looks like Johns Hopkins has made several of the improvements I recommended in their dashboard (yay!) Here's a screen-capture of their new/improved dashboard. Looking good Johns Hopkins!
- The numbers in the 'Confirmed' column are now red, to match the red bubbles in the map.
- The red bubbles are now gone from the 'Deaths' column.
- The proportions of the line graph are now much taller.
- They've added a date/timestamp (bottom/left corner).
- You can now read all the main/important items in the information box without scrolling.
- They've changed the title to "Coronavirus COVID-19" (which is the latest name being used in the news).
- You can now zoom-in the map such that it shows all the countries (excluding Antarctica) without big blank margins forcing the countries to be small.
Update (Feb 9, 2020)
Update (Feb 24, 2020)
Now that the virus has spread to many other countries, I have added drill-down links to my dashboard, so you can click the countries in the map, or the country names in the tables, and see a graph of that country's data.
Update (Mar 11, 2020)
Some of my colleagues at SAS have created a Novel Coronavirus Report using SAS Visual Analytics that depicts the status, locations, spread and trend analysis of the coronavirus. Data is updated nightly. The ability to visualize the COVID-19 outbreak can help raise awareness, understand its impact and can ultimately assist in prevention efforts. View the public SAS Coronavirus dashboard to see maps based in ESRI, coronavirus statistics, and an animated timeline of worldwide spread.LEARN MORE | See all Coronavirus dashboard blog posts
Update (Mar26, 2020)
Since the Johns Hopkins is no longer reporting the 'recovered' data, I have replaced that column in the dashboard with a column showing the daily increase in confirmed cases.