April 27, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jamey Dunn-Thomason
IGPA COVID-19 task force releases data visualization tool as part of effort to measure
human toll of the pandemic
Users can map populations considered more vulnerable to the virus and recession
URBANA — The University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) has partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Urban Data Visualization Lab to release a tool that maps key information related to populations and entities more vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Policy Spotlight released today, titled Visualizing Vulnerability and Capturing the Pandemic’s Human Toll, is the first in a series from IGPA’s Task Force on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. These Policy Spotlights will drill down on specific dimensions of the challenges facing Illinois and respond to policy questions raised by the broader reports issued by the task force. This spotlight builds on a report, released last week, from the Community and Family Resilience Impact Group.
“Some Illinoisans are experiencing a double whammy. They are vulnerable both to the virus itself and to the economic fallout that is happening as our country plunges into a recession. Visualizing these overlapping vulnerabilities lays bare vital moral considerations,” said IGPA Director Robin Fretwell Wilson. “This tool can help to anticipate needs and guide policy decisions that effectively address them. We must use this information as a guardrail, so that those with the least are not left to disproportionately bear the brunt of the pandemic.”
The Policy Spotlight focuses on helping Illinois develop a systematic understanding of what the pandemic has meant for people’s lives, so these human costs can also be a part of any decision-making processes, along with public health information and broader economic data.
As part of that effort, IGPA and the Urban Data Visualization Lab worked together to develop maps that more clearly identify vulnerabilities, both to the virus and to the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.
“These unique and granular datasets allow users to quickly pinpoint the location of small businesses, nursing homes or neighborhoods that are likely the most vulnerable to COVID-19,” said Ahoura Zandiatashbar, a geo-data scientist at the Urban Data Visualization Lab. “Having the ability to visualize the vulnerability of communities to COVID-19 through these mapping tools could help support responsive decision-making and prompt actions from nonprofits, foundations and governments.” Zandiatashbar created the maps along with PhD student Anton Rozhkov.