Why maps matter in our response to COVID-19

By Robert Muggah

Published in the World Economic Forum

During the first half of 2020 when more than two-thirds of the world’s population was in lockdown, many of us were transfixed by a map. The alarming red and black display, produced by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, tracks the evolution of COVID-19, the most devastating virus of the past 100 years.

The map provides a real-time count of the number of people who are infected and killed by COVID-19 in almost 190 countries.

Our understanding of and behavioural response to COVID-19 is profoundly influenced by maps. Since the disease first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, there has been a veritable outbreak of data visualizations charting its deadly spread. Some are more informative than others. When well designed and executed, maps can build awareness and shape smarter decision-making from the global to the hyper-local level.

Read more