Assignment: Week 1

Visual stories and my topic of interest

Image Source: Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”

Story 1

Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to ‘flatten the curve’

Source: Washington Post
Date: March 14, 2020
By: Harry Stevens


Why do I find it interesting?
I remember reading this report back in March. It was very meaningful to me, not only because of what was demonstrated through the report, but that was one of the first times that I also looked at visualization itself as a medium. I remember that last semester, at the time that I saw this article, I was taking a Nature of Code class. It really impacted me that the method chosen to do the visualization was intrinsically similar to simulations that I was learning in class. And I saw an immediate real-life application about what I was learning to represent behavior and data.

About the story

This story uses simulation to visually explain the information, making it more approachable to readers. The question that the authors are asking is how diseases spread through the population and how taking different measures could slow the spread of a contagious disease.

To develop the storytelling of this simulation, the author uses a fake, but contagious, a disease called simulitis.

The data sources are CSV files from Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering organize in the Github repository:

CSSEGISandData/COVID-19”. This is a list of daily reports of Covid cases around the world since January 22, 2020.

The news article also presents a disclaimer that mentions that the actual number of cases could be higher in the US due to failures in the Covid testing.

The methodology used in this report is Simulation. The article begins with a small sample of disease spread among 5 individuals (circles), followed by how these individuals could not transmit the virus after recovery. I see this part as an introduction of the simulation to understand the next visualizations.

Subsequently, the simulation demonstrates disease spread in a small population. The visuals demonstrate how fast the virus spread without any precautions. It is interesting that each of these population simulations had three graphical representations. This satisfied the information presented in different levels of understanding: numerical information, change over time and visualization of the spread. This structure of multiple visualizations better informs the reader throughout the article.

Story 2

What happened to viral particles on the Subway

Source: The New York Times
Date: Aug 10, 2020
By: Mika Gröndahl, Christina Goldbaum, Jeremy White

Link to Article

Why do I find it interesting?

What is most interesting about this article is how the visuals evolve through time to demonstrate the ventilation system on the subways. This article definitely helps me to rationalize my anxiety of being in the train cabin.

About the story
The question in this article is to evaluate how safe it is to take the subway during the coronavirus pandemic, in the context of how the particles travel within the cabin. The visual story developed through the visualization of the ventilation system on the subway and how particles move in that space.

The sources in this article are scientists from the center of computational Fluid Dynamic in George Mason University, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, Yale School of Public Health and the car equipment division of New York City Transit.

The methodology includes images, interactive videos and captions. Scrolling the site, animated images show how the air flows and how the particle moves when someone sneezes. Small captions of information feed the visualization while it is developing. It has the feel of an informative video that the reader can select the speed of navigation.

Story 3

Image Source: NYT ·Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Live Maps: Tracking Hurricane Dorian’s Path

Source: The New York Times
Date: Sept. 6, 2019
By: Matthew Bloch and Denise Lu

Link to Article

Why do I find it interesting?

The article demonstrates, in multiple ways, the path of a hurricane. It uses the data to show how the hurricane impacts an area, such as winds speed, rainfall and flooding areas. The quality of data presented in this visual story is a very compelling way to explore this information in full detail.

About the story

The question that developed the article is what was the path and development of Hurricane Dorian when it hit the US. The article also presents different information about the path of hurricane Dorian through the Bahamas.

This article uses live maps and data visualization as the method to develop the visual story. The source from this visual story comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The first visual includes hurricane winds, storm path and storm category. The visualizations show flooding areas and rainfall from the hurricane system. The most interesting visualization is the one that is comparing the potential paths of the storm with the actual path.

While the visual develops information about the hurricane, the article text develops relevant news about the governmental support and resources, declaration of a state of emergency and evacuation zones. It explores the impact of the hurricane on different levels, giving a holistic perspective to the story and information.

The topic of Interest, my question:

What are the hurricanes that hit the Antilles and how are the routes compared with the strength?

This question is related to the effect of hurricanes and the impact of climate change. Coming from Puerto Rico, we live constantly aware of the danger of hurricanes. Hurricanes can be life-changing events, like the hurricane Maria (2017) was in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. I want to approach the impact of hurricanes in the Caribbean, their development and if possible, compare it to other data to create visuals about their impact.



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Themis García

Themis García

Product Designer, Accessibility Researcher, Coder, Artist | PR-born & raised | She, Her, Ella|