What is it about?

Maps are a great way to visualize data creatively. During the COVID-19 pandemic, maps have been used regularly to show how the situation was developing. But many of these maps have used inconsistent health data. Some of them even use map types and symbols that are not correctly suited for the purpose of showing data. The authors of this study analyzed several COVID-19 maps. They highlighted some of the unsuitable ways in which data is shown in maps. They then suggest better options for depicting data. For example, the color red can alarm people. Using shades of gray in maps might be a better option as it is a neutral color.

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Why is it important?

Maps have an influence on health policy decisions and infection management. A poorly executed map can create public confusion. It can also mislead policymakers into making the wrong decision. Sometimes maps can exaggerate the damage COVID-19 is doing. This can make people panic. At the same time, maps can sometimes downplay the concern. If a person comes across a lot of inaccurate maps, they can start to lose trust in them. This will make them suspect the data the map is based on, and also doubt policies based on the map. Maps should also be different based on what they are being used for. Maps that answer specific questions should be direct. On the other hand, maps that help people explore information should be interactive. That way people can play with parameters and get the most complete picture possible from the map. KEY TAKEAWAY: Inaccurate maps can spread false information. This can make people lose faith in the maps, mapmakers, and people who use the maps. Maps should be made carefully and neutrally with the intention of depicting data accurately.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Mapping COVID-19 in Context: Promoting a Proportionate Perspective on the Pandemic, Cartographica The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization, March 2021, University of Toronto Press (UTPress),
DOI: 10.3138/cart-2020-0020.
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