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SA Branch June 2022 meeting: The UK coronavirus dashboard: how we provide a daily, high demand service

19 Jul 2022 9:47 AM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)

The June 2022 meeting of the SA Branch was given virtually by Clare Griffiths, head of the UK COVID-19 dashboard at the UK Health Security Agency. Clare described the evolution of the dashboard during the course of the pandemic. The dashboard needed to be more than just analysis and statistics, it had to be accessible to the public, be able to convey complex information simply to a wide audience and be able to handle high volumes of traffic. The project was based on an infectious diseases surveillance system which is still used to manage data before entering the pipeline for the dashboard. 

There have been three versions of the dashboard as the need for public information has changed over time. Initially, in the (northern hemisphere) summer of 2020, the dashboard took over from daily press briefings and provided daily counts of cases and deaths. Later versions included regional data and as the vaccination program rolled out, included metrics on vaccination rates. 

The code is open source and the data is held in public repositories. This openness helps transparency and improves trust in the project. Challenges include monitoring data quality, data linkage to death data, managing reinfections and deduplications. 

There have been five user surveys to evaluate public response to the dashboard. Metrics are regularly reviewed to keep them relevant. There was early interest in test and trace metrics, now there is almost none. Future metrics will include monitoring of variants and infection surveys. This was a fascinating talk on the development of a highly visible dashboard that was developed rapidly to provide public information. The design principles of accessibility, openness and conveying complex information simply is an exemplar for public health projects.

By Lan Kelly

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