Johns Hopkins University Covid Tracker

We created a video campaign to track the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic for the Johns Hopkins University, a project created with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Total number of videos created 213
Trigger type Time
Average creation time Daily

The purpose of this campaign was to create daily short videos providing an update of the current US evolution of the pandemic, as well as a final quick overview of the global situation. We came up with an automated video solution that pulls data from the Johns Hopkins open source data feed on a daily basis. The data is then integrated and displayed in a tailor-made video template, designed to communicate all the data we learned to constantly check, in a trustworthy and neutral tone of voice, that characterises the most reliable source of Covid-19 data.

Different data lead to different visual representations of the trend that the pandemic is taking.

The color scheme has been one of the first design choices we made when we started working on the project. We focused on two main data points: the New Cases outbreaks and the New Deaths amount. We decided to move past the classic red used by the Johns Hopkins world famous dashboard, and -more in line with the hospital brand colours- to use orange for the Cases and a more dramatic purple for the Deaths.
Then, we decided to connect these two colors with data, muting their shades in order to generate a second layer of information. For example, if the New Cases data was on the rise, the orange tone would become more intense and slightly reddish; alternatively, if the number of cases was decreasing the color would become more muted, verging on a lighter, pinkish tone, instead. We applied the same colour treatment for the Deaths related data, working with various shades of purple tones.
To reinforce the concept, we also connected data to the shapes and sounds working with a range of positive, negative, and neutral cues.

In this way, each video is a unique piece of data-generated design — but above all, the viewer can have a quick understanding of the day’s overview.
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Representing the pandemic

Another important design choice that we took was to represent the data as simple circles enriched by a grainy, moving texture echoing the pandemic. The grain helped mirror the multitude of people moving randomly, while also recalling the image you might see under a microscope.

This way, big picture meets extreme detail. Also the use of blurred edges for the shapes emphasize the fluid nature of information: beyond the data monitored through testing, and then displayed, other cases may still very well exist and spread without being taken into consideration.

The video also displays figures, maps, charts and areas. We always kept the same color scheme in order to enhance clarity (using a grey neutral tone for the tested). Thanks to the JHU inputs, we made sure to always display data from a perspective that could simultaneously cover temporal, geographical and other data comparisons (such as the positivity ratio or cumulated amounts).

Motion design has been crucial to making these comparisons visually effective.

During the first weeks of the COVID—19 outbreak, the JHU interactive map has been one of the main reference points for media all over the world. Our goal was to keep it as a visual benchmark and to add a timelapse animation showcasing the evolution of the spread in the US territory for the past 14 days.

Reach on social media per day

Flexible distribution

Every morning at 7:00am in New York, Algo autonomously creates the daily video and uploads it straight on to the chosen output, on the Johns Hopkins Covid Resources website and on the JHU Twitter & Youtube channels, without any human intervention required. This way, the JHU team can focus on data quality and more important tasks at hand, leaving all the hustle of video production and distribution to the robot.

The videos have been very well received on Twitter where they’re being quoted to demand action to the local and federal governments (see examples here, here, or here) and have been featured on Politico and Time Magazine, which named the JHU resources a top invention of 2020.