“The Unsung Mapmakers: The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard Requires an Array of Behind-the-Scenes Expertise From Staff at Multiple Divisions, Selflessly Working at All Hours. Here’s Their Story.”
In the early days of managing the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard, experts at the university and those at Esri, the company providing the mapping software for the real-time pandemic tracker, had a friendly rivalry.
“They would tell us, ‘Oh, your COVID map is big, but not as big as our Pokémon Go map,’ which was their most in demand,” says Reina Murray, an application administrator at JHU’s Sheridan Libraries.
“If you want to produce something of this kind of high quality and integrity, it really does take a lot of people,” says Sayeed Choudhury, associate dean for research data management at the Sheridan Libraries, which supports software logistics for the dashboard.
A small team at the Sheridan Libraries, including Murray and Choudhury, works to support this massive data infrastructure, which includes managing the ongoing relationship with Esri. Hopkins researchers have used the company’s ArcGIS tools for years for a range of internal projects—tracking everything from Baltimore food deserts to Frederick Douglass’ travels—but the COVID-19 dashboard brought the software into a public realm of unprecedented scale.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.