Sergey Nivens - stock.adobe.com
Tableau enhanced its COVID-19 Data Hub with the addition of the Global Tracker, a free database that monitors metrics such as vaccine rollout by country that will eventually assist the global recovery from the pandemic.
The Global Tracker, unveiled on March 3, does not provide any data unique to Tableau, but instead culls data from disparate sources and organizes it in one location for easy exploration by anyone from the general public to healthcare organizations and governments.
Among the sources from which Tableau pulls its COVID-19 data are the United Nations, U.S. Census Bureau, HealthData.gov, The New York Times, Johns Hopkins University and Oxford University.
The Global Tracker takes advantage of the technological prowess of not only Tableau but also its parent company, Salesforce, and another Salesforce subsidiary, MuleSoft, which specializes in data integration. The three work together to create a data pipeline that automatically pulls COVID-19 data from specified sources, cleans and prepares the data, and ultimately publishes it to the Global Tracker within the Tableau COVID-19 Data Hub.
There, users can navigate to explore the current situation in any nation. With one click they can view a data visualization displaying newly created graphs showing data about the vaccine rollout and the number of vaccines administered along with longstanding graphs on total cases, deaths and contact tracing.
In addition, users seeking COVID-19 information in the United States can then drill down to explore the data on a state-by-state basis, and within each state view the data at the county level.
"Global Tracker pulls information from a lot of different data sources into one visualization, updated daily, allowing people to see and interact with those data points to inform individual behavior, business decisions and government policies," said Jeremy Blaney, product manager for Tableau Blueprint, Tableau's methodology for data-driven decision-making.
Vaccination data alone is not enough to fully understand progress toward recovery and inform decisions, Blaney continued.
"It's an important data point, but it's insufficient on its own," Blaney said. "Only when we look at all of those metrics in one cohesive view can we see how each element relates to the other, [and the] new Global Tracker provides a comprehensive view of the interrelationships between all of the key metrics measuring our progress toward recovery."
Among the organizations now using Tableau to help track COVID-19 data are 70 state, provincial and city governments in the U.S. and Canada, numerous colleges and universities, and enterprises such as Verizon and Experian.
And given that the Global Tracker provides not only vaccine data but also other data related to COVID-19 that helps contextualize each individual metric, it's a valuable tool, according to Sam Scarpino, an assistant professor in the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University, a recent guest on Tableau's weekly web broadcast "If Data Could Talk."
Sam Scarpino Assistant professor, Network Science Institute, Northeastern University
"It's going to take a long time for countries to reach a threshold of vaccination where transmission is going to be interrupted," Scarpino said during the web broadcast. "As a result, we need to be layering in [data about] contact tracing, case investigation, testing, mask wearing -- all the things we have been trying to do for months -- with the vaccines so we can get to a new normal faster."
Using the Global Tracker, government agencies and other organizations can see which nations are having the most success battling the pandemic, including the rollout of vaccines, and which are struggling. In addition, on the same Dashboard, they can also view how stringent regulations have been in those nations and whether there's a correlation between regulations and case data.
Israel, for example, has had one of the most successful vaccine rollouts with about 101 doses administered per 100 people -- most vaccines require more than one dose -- as of March 7.
The U.S., meanwhile, stood at about 27 doses per 100 people as of March 7, and the U.K. at 34 doses per 100 people.
Israel did, however, suffer spikes in positive cases in September and December, and using the Oxford Stringency Index on the Global Tracker it's easy to see that the spikes coincided with a relaxation of COVID-19-related regulations. Once regulations were reinstated, cases declined.
"No single person has all the answers," Blaney said. "The Global Tracker presents key data in context, giving government leaders at all levels the opportunity to look beyond their borders for guidance on what more can be done to curb the spread of COVID, as well as what should not be done."
With countries such as Israel providing a potential example, others can view what worked with respect to the vaccine rollout and response to case surges -- and what led to case surges -- and then make their own data-driven decisions.
"There's a lot that we still don't know about how to appropriately respond to the pandemic, and by looking outside of borders you're able to get a sense of what's working and what's not working in different necks of the woods," Blaney said.
He added that the tracker also provides a template for state and local governments to use for their own COVID-19 dashboards, and metrics such as the local vaccination rate and Oxford Stringency Index can be used by enterprises making decisions about when and how to return to work.
"Having all this in one cohesive view can help all of us see how each element relates another," Blaney said. "It can help us appreciate the complexity and context that's required of this situation, which is ultimately going to be critical to seeing and understanding the path to normalcy."