YYC COVID MAP
To design and build an automated visual representation of Calgary’s AHS Covid data to provide better clarity per neighbourhood and help reduce the mental stress surrounding the pandemic.
For those of us who subscribe to their Calgary’s subreddit r/calgary during the early days of COVID, we have been greeted daily by a map showing us where in the city active cases of COVID19 were occurring.
For months one specific user (u/MsMattJeevas) added this map, Monday to Friday without fail. After months of benefiting from their work, we wanted to support them by adding our value and experience in design and data organization.
With their support, the result was a map that showcased not only daily active cases, but also:
- • The 1, 7, and 14-day change.
- • Positivity Rate
- • Logarithmic Scale to support a wider scale in case of Covid waves
- • Cases per Population metric which represented Covid cases per 10k people as a simple number that users could easily compare regions against. This allowed for a simpler way to know if cases were high or low
- • Colour Blind Friendly
DATA & ORGANIZATION
Every day at 3;30pm MST alberta.ca provides the Province of Alberta with updates on COVID cases. This was the initial source data to our map and how we organized it to better understand the 1, 7, and 14-day changes that made our map unique.
It takes us 30 minutes to input and confirm the data on our end, and is done by two of us to reduce error.
From here, we would post directly to Reddit’s r/calgary with the headline showing Alberta Totals for the day (a holdover from when u/MsMattJeevas posted — clever!)
DESIGN & LANGUAGES
Clarity was the primary focus of this map. It needed to be easily understood by everyone who viewed it at-a-glance. Second focus was to give users a greater idea of the trends in active cases, this way we could all see how long-weekends, holidays, and events might have affected areas over time.
Knowing that both newer Canadians and older members of each community could be left in the dark when it came to making daily decisions regarding Covid safety, we decided to support them by asking the r/Calgary community for translators to the 6 most used languages within Calgary.
They were, Urdu, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, and Tagalog.
These maps were provided on our website www.yyccovid.ca daily for them to be shared, which we learned was especially the case for the Urdu community, who shared their map amongst the 7k+ members within their Facebook group.
AUTOMATION & DEVELOPMENT
It became obvious that we couldn’t maintain the pace of the map in all its languages, iterations, and data needs, so we enlisted the help of a developer who automated the process.
This reduced any human error we may have come across in manual input (which was reviewed by many users who helped us make corrections).
Our map was now populated and exported within seconds of the AHS Data being placed on their own website.
With technical time being reduced, we partnered with a statistician would was creating rolling average graphs concerning hospitalizations. Together, the map became a fully automated and single source of information for many people.
For many, it may come as a surprise that we were behind the creation and dissemination of the YYC Covid Map, however, we maintained anonymity for 3 reasons:
- This wasn’t about our company. This wasn’t the place nor the project to try and secure new clientele. We had the resources needed to support our community and to brand each post with our name would have been classless.
- Only 2/4 people in our group came from Octopus & Son, @Conail land @Heenawter, respectively, were 2 individuals who wanted to add their value to the project. It would have been disingenuous to say the project only belonged to us.
- Trust. Covid is unfortunately, a contentious topic for some which meant there was already a barrier for some to trust the information we were showcasing — even though the data came directly from AHS.
So to mention that some of us we’re from a marketing agency would have created distrust and added no value to the goal. The only benefit was that our skills of design, spreadsheets, and building teams helped us take the original map to the next level.
It’s important to note that we never lied about who we were, we only stayed anonymous and requested those who knew us, to keep it that way.
In setting out to build a simplified visual of Calgary’s AHS Covid data that helps a user assess their risk tolerance, we made certain to remove bias in both our language and in how data is presented.
We found a grateful but frustrated community and removing ourselves from the day-to-day posts by automating both the map itself and the process, allowed us to continue serving our community without impacting our mental health.
The map was taken offline on February 14th, 2022 after 18 months.