Open data, data use, and COVID-19
The current COVID-19 pandemic raises important questions about opening, sharing and using data, and highlights the challenges associated with data use. To address the ongoing need for data-driven decision making, Open Data Watch has put together some of the most helpful articles we’ve found, organized by the stages of the data value chain: availability, openness, dissemination, and use and uptake. These will be updated as new information becomes available and new resources will be noted with each update by the text *New*. The date of publication is listed beside each article; however, dates are not shown for dashboards and data sources that are dynamically updated.
If you know of something more to add, please contact us.
Updated 9 April 2020
Modeling the spread and understanding the limitations of modeling
The US and the UK were first moved to action on COVID-19 by models from the Imperial College London and now we are seeing more aggressive actions in response to the White House’s new models for COVID-19 that were released on 31 March. Models, however, are only as good as the data and assumptions programmed into them and so the world is also being cautioned to not take their estimates as predictions of the future but guides to how actions taken can affect the spread of COVID-19. And with the release of results from these models come renewed calls for testing and better data on COVID-19 to improve them.
- The Center for Disease Control has released its first dataset on COVID-19 cases in children in the United States. (4/6/20) *New*
- The United Nations Statistics Division, in partnership with ESRI, launched a new COVID-19 data hub to disseminate COVID-19 data that is interoperable with data on national platforms. *New*
- Data.World curated a collection of COVID-19 data sources.
- The World Bank curates a collection of COVID-19 datasets and a dashboard for understanding the COVID-19 pandemic through data.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) provides daily status reports including new cases and totals.
- The EU Open Data portal has data that is updated daily on COVID-19 cases worldwide.
- The US Center of Disease Control (CDC) provides daily updates on cases in the US.
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control tallies global cases.
- Our World in Data has provided data on country-by-country coronavirus testing along with country-by-country confirmed cases and deaths.
- Google has created a central repository for COVID-19 data, resources, and visualizations.
- ESRI has created a hub for geospatial COVID-19 data and resources.
- The Allen Institute for AI has released a dataset of articles on coronavirus family of viruses to apply recent advances in natural language processing to generate new insights in support of the fight against the virus.
- The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China provides updates on cases in China.
- The Corona Data Scraper pulls COVID-19 case data from verified sources, finds the corresponding GeoJSON features, and adds population data to help data analysts understand the virus.
- Two APIs have been developed to provide continual, free, and updated access to COVID-19 data to create visualizations and analyses: COVID Tracking and the Virustracker.
- The World Economic Forum explains why we could be vastly overestimating the death rate for COVID-19. (4/4/20)
- Stefan Verhulst describes the potential of data collaboratives for COVID-19. (4/1/20)
- Wired reports on efforts from doctors to pool data to help understand COVID-19. (3/25/20)
- Politico reports on Big Tech and whether — or how — to use all their user data to fight the pandemic. (3/18/20)
- Canada Broadcasting Channel reports on the increase and importance of data sharing to fight COVID 19. (3/17/20)
- STAT discusses the dearth of data on the real course of the epidemic. (3/17/20)
- The GovLab and partners have issued a call to action to build the data infrastructure and ecosystem to respond to pandemics and other societal threats. (3/16/20)
- The Open Data Institute writes on the importance of publishing the data and models for decision making on COVID-19 to provide accountability to the public and support common efforts. (3/16/20)
- This article from Wired describes how data sharing and open-source software can help combat COVID-19. (3/13/20)
- Politico writes on the five stats that should be published and updated daily to understand and stop the spread of the coronavirus. (3/13/20)
- The spread of COVID-19 is also affecting how the US gathers its census data. (3/13/20)
- As different sectors join to improve the availability of COVID-19 data and mobilize location data, this article outlines the best practices for anonymizing or deidentifying location data. (4/6/20) *New*
- The Intercept provides guidelines on how to perform responsible surveillance in the time of COVID-19. (4/2/20)
- Tech Crunch reports on an EU coalition of techies is backing a ‘privacy-preserving’ standard for COVID-19 contacts tracing. (4/1/20)
- Advice from the World Economic Forum on how to restore data privacy after the coronavirus pandemic. (3/31/20)
- Article from Fast Company on how COVID-19 could change the debate on privacy. (3/26/20)
- Article from the Center for Global Development on the guidelines for using digital surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (3/20/20)
- Tom Orrell from the Data Ready Initiative proposes five data governance rules to use to protect privacy in the COVID-19 crisis. (3/19/20)
- The Washington Post reports on how the Israeli government is working on using secret access to cell phone data in the country to trace the contacts COVID-19 patients have had with others. (3/16/20)
- The European Data Protection Board released a statement on the importance of protecting privacyin COVID-19 datasets. (3/16/20)
- Article from the Verge on how to balance the right to privacy with the demand for public health data on COVID-19. (3/12/20)
- This article from the International Association of Privacy Professionals outlines the relevant data protection laws, including GDPR, that apply to COVID-19 data. (3/11/20)
- New York Times visualization on how COVID-19 is spreading in different cities in America. (4/6/20) *New*
- This visualization from the New York Times demonstrates how income affects people’s abilities to stay home and practice social distancing. (4/3/20)
- The New York Times maps out how stay-at-home orders affected the spread of COVID-19 in the US. (4/2/20)
- Video from Vox comparing the spread and mortality rate of COVID-19 to the flu, measles, and other diseases. (4/1/20)
- Modeling and animation from 3Blue1Brown of a theoretical pandemic and results on the efficacy of different efforts to control it. (3/27/20)
- Video from minutephysics on interpreting and understanding graphs on the growth of COVID-19. (3/27/20)
- An interactive visualization from the NY Times on how the COVID-19 spread around the world to become a pandemic. (3/22/20)
- Video from the CDC on the different mortality rates for pandemics throughout history. (3/19/20)
- The BBC guide to the pandemic includes a series of visualizations to understand the virus and its spread. (3/19/20)
- This VOX article is a collection of important charts to understand the virus. (3/17/20)
- These visualizations from the Washington Post show how epidemics spread and how to “Flatten the curve” and reduce the fatality rate from COVID-19. (3/14/20)
- Canada’s Globe and Mail produced these visualizations on how different countries are working to “Flatten the curve.”(3/14/20)
- Model from the University from Maryland on how climate can affect the spread of COVID-19. (3/13/20)
- The Social Progress Imperative created a map of COVID-19 vulnerability in cities around America.
- The CovidActNow dashboard provides predicitions on when the outbreak will hit states around the US.
- SimularWeb offers a daily assessment of the consumer and business behavior amid the COVID-19 pandemic and tracks the economic impact of COVID-19.
- United Nations World Food Program releases a world travel restriction tracker.
- Oxford University launches the world’s first COVID-19 government response tracker. (3/25/20)
- Johns Hopkins created a global dashboard to track the spread of the virus.
- This amazing dashboard to track COVID-19 infection rates around the world was created by a 17-year-old and has become one of the central information points for understanding the spread of the virus.
- ESRI has created maps of the spread of COVID-19 around the world and a narrative story map to explain the spread.
- Our World in Data provides a series of visualizations of the confirmed cases and deaths around the world from WHO data.
- The COVID-19 MAP on cases, travel restrictions, and other critical informationis updated every few minutes thanks to the https://reddit.com/r/covidmapping team of volunteers.
- The Financial Times uses the data, including from Johns Hopkins, to track cases and deaths with innovative graphics.
- UpCode created this simple but beautiful dashboard on the spread of coronavirus in Singapore.
- Nextstrain’s dashboard on the spread of the coronavirus includes information on how the genetics of the virus has changed as it has spread around the globe.
- Visualizations of foot traffic from Safe Graph to understand how Americans are following social distancing guidelines.
- MIT reviewed a list of dashboards on the coronavirus to identify the best and worst dashboards. (3/6)
Uptake and Use
- Jeni Tennison, the vice-president of the Open Data Institute, explores the dearth of COVID-19 data in the UK. (4/2/20)
- Forbes reports on how not counting asymptomatic coronavirus carriers in China has been keeping their official numbers of COVID-19 infections lower than the actual rates of infection. (3/31/20)
- Our World in Data, an online publication based at the University of Oxford, announced on Tuesdaythat it had stopped relying on World Health Organization (WHO) data for its models, citing errors and other factors. (3/25/20)
- Researchers call for wider testing as Iceland finds half of CODID-19 positive cases are asymptomatic. (3/22/20)
- An editorial from the JAMA Network on raises the possibility of double counting of COVID-19 patients in data and analysis of the epidemic. (3/16/20)
- The Washington Post writes about Chinese hackers using coronavirus data to steal sensitive user information. (3/13/20)
- Hackers used a dashboard posing as one from John’s Hopkins University to illegally harvest personal information. (3/13/20)
- Article from the EU observer on the questions of reliability about WHO COVID-19 data. (3/13/20)
- This Guide from the Atlantic discusses how to interpret and understand data on the outbreak at the state level. (3/12/20)
- The Atlantic writes that the data on US cases of coronavirus might not be reliable. (3/3/20)
- New York Magazine reports on why it was hard for public health experts to raise the alarm on COVID-19. (3/26/20)
- Psychology today published an article on why some people aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. (3/26/20)
- Four theories from the Atlantic on why COVID-19 data and news stories haven’t changed the bahaviors of some young people. (3/19/20)
- Suggestions from CNN on how to write emails and content about COVID-19 so that people will read and understand them. (3/13/20)
- Forbes article on how politics and biases affected the ability for decision makers to correctly interpret and take action on coronavirus data. (3/2/20)
- This Bloomberg article discusses the probability neglect bias that causes people to misinterpret COVID-19 data. (2/28/20)
- Psychology today article on some of the different ways our brain interprets the numbers on COVID-19. (2/27/20)
- The World Economic Forum has a discussion with a data visualization expert on five good techniques for compiling charts with COVID-19 data. (4/8/20) *New*
- The Economist conducts a statistical analysis on the link between COVID-19 cases and political events in China. (4/7/20) *New*
- How to read COVID-19 graphs and understand what it means to “flatten the curve.” (4/7/20) *New*
- An article from Slate explaining the difficulties using the smart thermometer data from Kinsa to track the spread of COVID-19. (4/6/20) *New*
- A data scientist describes how to use Google search data to understand the symptoms of COVID-19 and reveals a new possible symptom found from his own research. (4/5/20)
- FiveThirtyEight takes a deep dive into how testing patterns can alter the accuracy of COVID-19 case counts. (4/4/20)
- The Washington post on how Google is tapping its vast trove of location data to aid the global effort to combat COVID-19. (4/3/20) *New*
- An article in Nature on how wastewater testing could also be used as an early-warning sign of COVID-19. (4/3/20)
- The International Labour Organization publishes a report for national statistical offices (NSOs) with guidance on statistical operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically focused on labor statistics and national Labour Force Surveys (LFS). (4/1/20)
- ESRI releases a podcast on how advanced analytics can accelerate our understanding of COVID-19 and how data science can help us respond to pandemics. (3/31/20)
- A study written by a mixed group of experts discusses how mobile phone data can guide government and public health authorities in determining the best course of action to control the COVID-19 pandemic. (3/27/20)
- Paper written by prominent researchers in the field of data-drive decision making describes how mobile phone data can guide government and public health authorities in determining the best course of action to control the COVID-19 pandemic. (3/26/20)
- Nature reports on how the data from the Diamond Princess cruise ship provides a natural experiment on the spread of COVID-19. (3/26/20)
- Devex explains the dangers of misinformation during COVID-19 with a special focus on India. (3/23/20)
- Tech Crunch reports on data from Kinsa’s smart thermometers being used to create a map of fevers across the United States. Anomalies and spikes in the instances of fevers in this dataset could show an increase in cases of COVID-19. (3/23/20)
- StatNews surveys the experience of Asian countries that have succeeded in reducing the spread of the corona virus and asks, “Can these techniques be applied elsewhere? Is it too late in places like the United Kingdom and the United States?” (3/20/20)
- Story from Wired on using satellite, internet, and traffic data to check the veracity of official COVID-19 data. (3/20/20)
- Fortune outlines some of the major findings from Korean COVID-19 data, which is some of the best in the world due to the country’s focus on testing. (3/19/20)
- Wired interview with the epidemiologist, Larry Brilliant, on how we defeat COVID-19 and the case for more testing and data. (3/19/20)
- A Stanford Epidemiologist describes the need for representative sampling and testing for COVID-19 to understand and fight the virus. (3/17/20)
- The NY Times reports on how the Imperial College Report on the spread of COVID-19 moved the US and the UK to action. (3/17/20)
- The BBC podcast More or Less: Behind the Stats takes a deep dive into Iran’s COVID-19 data. (3/14/20)
- Tips for fact checking in the age of misinformation and the coronavirus. 3/4/20)
- The Washington Post describes the new updates to the United States’ COVID-19 model that has revised its estimates of COVID-19 casualties. (4/8/20) *New*
- The Atlantic reports on the importance of understanding models as predictions with their own biases and faults and not crystal balls into the future. (4/2/30)
- Vox writes about the White House’s new model for the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. (3/31/20)
- Researchers at the Imperial College London estimate the potential impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social distancing, in 11 European countries using data from the European Centre of Disease Control (ECDC). (3/30/20)
- This study from IHME uses a statistical model to present the first set of estimates of predicted health service utilization and deaths due to COVID-19 by day for the next 4 months for each state in the United States. (3/26/20)
- Article in Science magazine on how models affect public policy decisions. (3/25/20)
- Ben Sparks provides a simple explanation of the so-called SIR Model being used to predict the spread of COVID-19. (3/25/20)
- Models from the Imperial College of London on the likely impact of public health measures on the spread of COVID-19. (3/17/20)
- The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team’s model is described here with results of their simulations of non-pharmaceutical interventions on healthcare demand. (3/16/20)
- UN Women has released dashboards on COVID-19 with sex-disaggregated case data, including sex-disaggregated data on health workers. (4/7/2020) *New*
- New York Times explains the dangers of not disaggregating data by gender and highlights that the recent data on cases and deaths in the United States from the Center of Disease Control Prevention (CDC) are not disaggregated by gender. (4/3/20) *New*
- Global Health 50/50 and CNN are compiling publicly available sex-disaggregated data reported by national governments.
- The Centre for Global Public Health at the Queen Mary University of London publishes a policy brief on the importance of an intersectional approach to COVID-19 data collection to ensure that minorities are not left behind. (3/31/20)
- Project Syndicate reports that applying a gender lens to COVID-19 requires reliable gender- and age-disaggregated data in all surveillance and monitoring efforts. (3/27/20)
- A significant percentage of the world’s population, many of them pregnant women, will be infected over the next weeks or months. This editorial from the online journal of the American Medical Association warns that more evidence is needed on the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 in the womb. (3/26/20)
- A BMJ study collected sex-disaggregated data on COVID-19 to analyze health disparities in hard hit areas. (3/24/20)
- Data2x calls for more COVID-19 tests as they provide crucial data inputs used to track the spread of transmission and tailor policy responses. (3/23/20)
- A recent KFF Coronavirus Poll, conducted between March 11 and 15, 2020 and finds larger shares of women taking greater precautions than men. (3/20/20)
- Webinar on collecting disaggregated data and conducting gendered analyses to better understand non-communicable disease. (3/19/20)
- Center for Global Development conducts an analysis on how COVID-19 affects women and girls in low- and middle-income countries. (3/16/20)
- The Lancet uses sex-disaggregated data to conduct a gender analysis of the mortality and vulnerability rates of the virus. (3/14/20)
- Health experts worry that the roles women hold in society,such as nurses or caregivers, may make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. (3/12/20)
- Forbes explains why collecting and publishing gender-disaggregated outbreak data is vital to medical and public efforts. (3/6/20)
- Health Europa reports on a newly developed artificial intelligence tool that will be able to accurately predict if newly infected patients with COVID-19 virus will develop severe symptoms. (4/8/20) *New*
- In order to limit misinformation, WhatsApp will now limit the ability to forward messages to other users. (4/7/20) *New*
- A piece on the Chinese cell phone applications which played a pivotal role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in China. (4/5/20) *New*
- The mobile phone industry is exploring the creation of a global data-sharing system that could track individuals to curb the spread of Covid-19. (3/25/20)
- Ghost Data, a research group in Italy, is scanning more than 500,000 social media posts to see if users are following quarantine guidelines. (3/25/20)
- The Washington Post reveals how smartphone data reveals which states are social distancing. (3/24/20)
- The WHO is releasing a program to send COVID-19 updates through WhatsApp. (3/20/20)
- The Indian government is using handstamps and mobile-phone tracking people suspected of having coronavirus to enforce quarantine. (3/20/20)
- The Register authors a piece on India’s initiative to crowdsource COVID-19 response. (3/17/20)
- A GovTech article on Singapore’s use of WhatsApp to send rapid updates on the coronavirus. (3/3/20)
- Statistical Journal of the International Association for Official Statistics authors a piece on the role of official statistics in the context of COVID-19. (4/8/20) *New*
- PARIS21 describes their strategy to support national statistical offices throughout the COVID-19 crisis. (3/27/20)
- The Open Government Partnership created a collection of examples on open government approaches to tackling COVID-19, many of which are digital initiatives.
- The United Nations Statistics Division is leading a collaborative effort to produce a website to share guidance, best practices, information resources, and tools to help statistical organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The UK Office of National Statistics reports on how they are providing the best possible information during COVID-19 through safe data collection.
- The OECD has put out an open call for evidence on the release and use of Open Government Data (OGD) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
- GitHub repository of data science tools for COVID-19.
- Help with COVID-19 has created a project board for crowdsourcing volunteers for tech and other projects to fight the spread of COVID-19.
- UC San Francisco is leading a COVID-19 ‘Citizen Science’ Initiative which any adult can sign up to via their mobile phone to provide insight on how the virus is spreading and reduce the number of new infections. (3/30/20)
- IBM offers free tools to track COVID-19 cases for your phone and online. (3/25/20)
- The Techforce19 challenge is providing up to 25,000 pounds of funding for any company in England looking to develop digital solutions that can be launched to support remote working. (2/23/20)
- Kaggle competition to create a daily COVID-19 forecast. (3/18/20)
- The crowdsourced app Opendemic provides status alerts on nearby cases of COVID-19 and critical information about the virus. (3/17/20)
- Gamers are using the extra processing power from their computers to help researchers understand the protein structure of COVID-19. (3/16/20)
- The World Economic Forum describes seven ways to use collective intelligence to tackle the emergence of a new global pandemic. (3/15/20)
- The Mercatus Center launches a series of prizes to fund innovation and research on COVID-19. (3/13/20)
- If you would like help making your own coronavirus dashboard, this article discusses the different R packages that you can use to create a dashboard. (3/11/20)
- Health officials and scientists in Britain are developing a smartphone app that would alert people who had come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. (3/10/20)
- Snopes crowdsources fact checking of misinformation on COVID-19 through the analysis of memes, rumors, jokes, and misinformation spreading on social media in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. (3/6/20)
- The University of Washington COVID-19 puzzle game aims to crowdsource a cure. (3/2/20)
- The Federation of American Scientists created a crowdsourced site for people to ask their questions about COVID-19 to scientists. (March)
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Open Data Watch is a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded by three development data specialists. It monitors progress and provides information and assistance to guide implementation of open data systems. The Open Data Watch team has unparalleled experience in development data management and statistical capacity building in developing countries and is committed to making open data a reality in all countries and development agencies.