Deploying geospatial visualization dashboards to combat the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19
COVID-19 dashboards with geospatial data visualization have become ubiquitous. There is a growing sense of responsibility to report public health data pushing governments and community organizations to develop and share web-based dashboards. While a substantial body of literature exists on how these GIS technologies and urban analytics approaches support COVID-19 monitoring, their level of social embeddedness, quality and accessibility of user interface, and overall decision-making capabilities has not been rigorously assessed. In this paper, we survey 68 public web-based COVID-19 dashboards using a nominal group technique to find that most dashboards report a wealth of epidemiologic data at the state and county levels. However, these dashboards have limited emphasis on providing granular data (city and neighborhood level) broken down by population sub-groups. We found severe inadequacy in reporting social, behavioral, and economic indicators that shape the trajectory of the pandemic and vice versa. Our survey reveals that most COVID-19 dashboards ignore the provision of metadata, data download options, and narratives around visualizations explaining the data’s background, source, and purpose. Based on these lessons, we illustrate an empirical experiment of building a dashboard prototype—the COVID-19 Economic Resilience Dashboard in Arizona. Our dashboard project demonstrates a model that can inform decision-making (beyond plain information sharing) while being accessible by design. To achieve this, we provide localized data, drill-down options by geography and sub-population, visualization narratives, open access to the data source, and accessible features on the interface. We exhibited the value of linking pandemic-related information with socioeconomic data. Our findings suggest a pathway forward for researchers and governments to incorporate more action-oriented data and easy-to-use interfaces as they refine existing and develop new information systems and data analytics dashboards.