3 Questions: Catherine D’Ignazio on visualizing Covid-19 data

By Jennifer Chu 

The Covid-19 pandemic is generating waves of data points from around the world, recording the number of tests performed, cases confirmed, patients recovered, and people who have died from the virus. As these data are continuously updated, media outlets, government agencies, academics, and data-packaging firms are racing to make sense of the numbers, using novel design and visualization tools to chart and graph the virus many different contexts.

In general, data visualizations can help people quickly distill an otherwise overwhelming flood of numbers. Catherine D’Ignazio, assistant professor of urban science and planning at MIT, says it is critical that data are visualized responsibly in a pandemic.

D’Ignazio is the director of the Data and Feminism Lab, where she uses data and computational techniques to work toward gender and racial equity. MIT News spoke with her about the current boom in Covid-19 data visualizations, and how data visualizers can help us make sense of the pandemic’s uncertain numbers.

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