Better Communication of COVID‑19 Trends through 3D Visualization

Stuerzlinger, Wolfgang | $50,000

British Columbia Simon Fraser University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The whole Canadian population was encouraged by regional governments to change their daily lifestyle significantly to control the spread of the COVID‑19 virus. Yet, communicating the need for such measures is a challenge, because these changes have an enormous impact on people’s lives. Thus, the community has to be informed about why regional governments are taking these measures, which requires better and effective communication between researchers, the Canadian and provincial governments, health authorities, and the public. However, the rapid increase and widely varying change in COVID‑19 cases makes it challenging to convey the messages in a way that is easy to understand. The specific challenge in visualizing such data is that many of the underlying trends are exponential in nature. Explaining such trends to the general public is challenging; people may not notice the fundamental difference between linear and logarithmic visualizations to show the number of cases, or they might not interpret the data correctly. Thus, there is a need for simple, effective, and easy-to-understand data visualization for COVID‑19 trends, which enables the public to understand and focus on the importance of the situation. Also, we are not aware on previous work on the response of the general population to COVID‑19 data visualizations, and we need to identify good approaches to attract people’s attention for this context. In this project, we are planning to investigate how people respond to existing COVID‑19 data visualization methods and how their reaction changes with novel visualization methods and techniques. We propose to use novel 3D visualisation approaches and to also compare the impact of 2D and 3D visualisation methods to visualize COVID‑19 data on the population. By applying all these research outcomes to application on different platforms, including Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality, we want to increase the effectiveness of COVID‑19 communication. With such communication, it will be easier to encourage the population to comply with measures, such as wearing facemasks and to continue to limit the size of gatherings.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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