New COVID-19 Global Tracker measures progress toward recovery
Today, on the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub, we launch a new Global Tracker that combines and visualizes the key metrics that measure our return to normalcy.
With the gradual rollout of vaccines, the coronavirus pandemic has entered a new phase. Yet, progress cannot be measured simply by tracking the number of vaccinations. In order to make the right decisions on the path to recovery, it’s critical we have a more nuanced understanding of the factors related to the spread of the disease.
For the past year, the focus of most trackers has been cases and deaths. Now, vaccination trackers have begun to proliferate. But just as critical as vaccination uptake data are data on: new tests administered, positive test rates, contact tracing, and what containment and public health policies are in force. All of these, of course, vary by region and change frequently.
Only when we look at all these metrics in one unified view can we see how each element relates to another. Our new Global Tracker pulls information from multiple data sources into one visualization, updated daily, allowing people to see and interact with those data to inform individual behavior, business decisions, and government policy.
The evolution of the Tableau COVID-19 Global Tracker
As the novel coronavirus grew from a regional phenomenon into a global pandemic in the first half of 2020, it was obvious very quickly that people needed data to understand what was happening. How fast is the virus spreading? Where are the hotspots? How many cases have been reported? What is the loss of life? And what do I do with all of this information to protect my loved ones, employees, and people living in my community?
Tableau launched the COVID-19 Data Hub on March 9, 2020 to help people answer these questions, and more. The pandemic has amplified the need for trusted data insights as businesses, governments, and healthcare organizations are faced with critical, real-time decisions that impact real lives, across the globe. As the weeks turned into months, new metrics, including testing data, became central to the conversation, and the COVID-19 Data Hub provided additional insights so people could understand the evolving situation.
Now we’re entering another phase of the pandemic. Vaccines are (slowly) being distributed, disease prevalence is decreasing, and hospitalization levels are stabilizing. We can begin to visualize light at the end of this long and unyielding tunnel—and where we are in this journey is a question we can explore with data insights.
The latest update to our Global Tracker is designed to help you see and understand the newest and most relevant data, such as localized disease spread, testing and vaccination, and social policy indicators, from both US and global perspectives.
How we choose data sources for the new Global Tracker
For almost a year now, Tableau has been gathering, unifying, and publishing trusted COVID-19 data to organizations around the world. That has largely consisted of data sourced from JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data and The New York Times. To find data sources on the other points (testing, vaccinations, and others) we spoke with health, government, and industry practitioners, identifying several options and evaluating each for accuracy and timeliness of updates. None are perfect, but that’s okay. Early on in the pandemic we realized you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good. In fact, visualizing what’s there as well as calling out what’s not there has helped data source providers identify areas for improvement.
Different data sources, one data visualization: the power of Prep Builder
Tableau Prep Builder has been a critical part of our workflow from the moment we launched the COVID-19 Data Hub. First, all data sources are mapped to a canonical data model, which was developed in partnership with teammates from Salesforce and MuleSoft. This allows us to easily combine them with one another. Then, anomalies like incorrect or missing country ISO codes are addressed. Finally, we automated the running of this flow through Tableau Prep Conductor, available as part of the Data Management add-on.
Protips for creating dashboards using different data sources
One critical learning from this process? Patience. Be comfortable with iteration. As we combined data sources, we stumbled upon anomalies that had to be addressed. With Tableau Prep Builder, it was easy to take a few steps back, alter a value, and advance.
Bookmark and share the new Global Tracker, and visit the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub regularly to follow the progress towards recovery in your own geography, and around the world.