Data visualization in the time of coronavirus



Currently, we observe a proliferation of data visualizations about Covid-19 in the media, which makes it a convenient time to study the topic from the perspective of different disciplines, including information design and mathematics. If, on the one hand, the abundance of such pandemic representations would already be a legitimate reason to address the issue, on the other hand, it is not the central motivation of the present discussion. The uniqueness of the epidemiological phenomenon that we are experiencing highlights new aspects regarding the production and use of data visualizations, one of which is its diversification beyond counting and visual representation of events related to the virus spread. In this sense, the article discusses, through the analysis of examples, three different approaches for this type of schematic representation, namely: visualization of hypothetical data, visualizations based on secondary data, and visualization for social criticism and self-reflection. Ultimately, we can argue that design contributes to the production of data visualizations that can help people to understand the causes and implications involved in the new coronavirus and encourage civic responsibility through self-care and the practice of social distancing.

Author Biographies

Júlia Rabetti Giannella, UFRJ

Professor in the Department of Visual Communication Design at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), pos-doc researcher at the Graduate Program in Design at UFRJ, and curator at DatavizRio. I have practical and academic experience with design for traditional media (print and web) and new media (mobile apps, digital publishing, VR-AR and exhibition design), with a particular interest in interaction design, information design, data visualization and digital humanities.

Luiz Velho, IMPA - Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada

Luiz Velho is a Senior Researcher / Full Professor at IMPA - Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada of CNPq , and the  leading scientist of VISGRAF Laboratory. He received a BE in Industrial Design from ESDI / UERJ in 1979, a MS in Computer Graphics from the MIT / Media Lab in 1985, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1994 from the University of Toronto under the Graphics and Vision groups.

His experience in computer graphics spans the fields of modeling, rendering, imaging and animation. During 1982 he was a visiting researcher at the National Film Board of Canada. From 1985 to 1987 he was a Systems Engineer at the Fantastic Animation Machine in New York, where he developed the company's 3D visualization system . From 1987 to 1991 he was a Principal Engineer at Globo TV Network in Brazil, where he created special effec ts and visual simulation systems. In 1994 he was a visiting professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematica l Sciences of New York University. He also was a visiting scientist at the HP Laboratories in 1995 and at Microsoft Research China in 2002.






Reflections on specific design responses to the ongoing crisis