Spatial and Temporal Data Visualisation for Mass Dissemination: Advances in the Era of COVID-19
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The COVID-19 pandemic is the first major pandemic of the digital age and has been characterised by unprecedented public consumption of spatial and temporal disease data, which can enable greater transparency and accountability of governments to the public for their public health decisions. A variety of state and non-state actors have collated and presented maps, charts, and plots of data related to the pandemic in both static and dynamic formats. In particular, there has been a proliferation of online dashboards presenting data related to the pandemic. The sources and types of information displayed have evolved rapidly during the pandemic, with a general trend towards providing more specialised information pertinent to specific aspects of epidemiology or disease control, as opposed simply to disease and death notifications. Limited evaluation of the quality of COVID-19 data visualisation tools has been conducted and significant effort now needs to be spent on standardisation and quality improvement of national and international data visualisation systems including developing common indicators, data quality assurance mechanisms and visualisation approaches, and building compatible electronic systems for data collection and sharing. The increasing availability of disease data for public consumption presents challenges and opportunities for government, media organisations, academic research institutions, and the general public. A key challenge is ensuring consistency and effectiveness of public health messaging to ensure a coordinated response and public trust in intervention strategies. Capitalising on opportunities for greater government accountability for public health decision-making, and more effective mobilisation of public health interventions, is predicated on the provision of accurate and timely information.
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