Paul Kahn

image of COVIC homepage

Data Visualization During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Paul Kahn will present findings from his project, Data Visualization During the COVID-19 Pandemic, in an online webinar on the lessons that can be learned from the many visualisations around the world that are designed to communicate, understand, analyse and predict a constantly changing situation.


4 June 2020 17.00 CET (Brussels)





The COVID-19 pandemic is touching every part of our interconnected world. Its impact is being felt in all parts of our lives. An enormous number of visualisations designed to communicate, understand, analyse, and predict a constantly changing situation are appearing on the Internet every day, created by our biomedical community, governments, non-governmental organisations, news media, and the independent data visualisation community at large.

Paul Kahn, in collaboration with Janice Zhang of Northeastern University, is building COVIC (COVID-19 Online VIsualization Collection), recording hundreds of examples visualisation about the pandemic from around the world, coding them according to type of visualisation and intended message. While the collection is an on-going project, there are already lessons to share. 

Kahn’s talk will explain how a hand-full of data visualisation techniques – choropleth and bubble maps, bar charts, line charts and area graphs and several animation and interaction techniques – have been used to characterise data about the disease. We will look at Chinese examples from the early months of the pandemic, as well as a range of dynamic “current medical state” pages being used to communicate the latest figures by the news media and governments. We will examine how visualisations based on epidemiology models are used to characterise and predict the spread, and how current state and predictions have begun to blur together. We will look at how visualisation is being used to explain public health rules for hygiene and social distancing and how cell phone data is being used to measure adherence. As the travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders spread, we will look at how visualisations have focused on economic and environmental impact of the pandemic. Finally, we will examine how visualisations about the pandemic are both understood and misunderstood. 

About the speaker

Paul Kahn specialises in solving large information problems, shaping and designing collections of digital information to improve user experience. He is constantly looking for the difference that makes a difference, the threshold of acceptance, the patterns that connect people to the information they need. Paul returned to the US in 2012 to join Mad*Pow after a decade working in the design community of Paris, France, where he created the first agency in France focused on information architecture, preceded by a decade leading Dynamic Diagrams in Providence RI. He retired from Mad*Pow and now devotes himself entirely to teaching and writing in the US and France.

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