(Baltimore, Maryland) As the Coronavirus continues its spread to every inhabited corner of the planet, everyday citizens’ appetite for the disease’s telemetry has grown exponentially, mainly to enable them to debate their expertise on epidemiology on social media platforms and in company-required Zoom meetings.
One person critical in the information battle raging on the pandemic is James Lee, a data scientist doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University, and the brainchild behind the popular website COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). And, while many visitors turn to the site on a daily basis to use its data to rail about it being the end of times or a complete hoax on social media, the dashboard’s roots have a humble beginning. We recently spoke with Mr. Lee about the inspired genius that helped him create such an important fountain of information.
“To be honest, I am not really sure where all the data that feeds the dashboard comes from,” Mr. Lee revealed. “I have to admit, I was a little high one night back in January, and kind of threw it all together as a prank to play on my other student buddies. Suddenly, before I knew it, the university had picked it up and published it to the Internet, as some kind of numerical authority on the pandemic’s spread. I guess it looked good enough for them.” In a hushed, sheepish voice, he added, “I actually think some of the numbers may come from Netflix viewer demographic breakouts from ‘Tiger King’, while other data, I think, is from state unemployment claims. For instance - look at this spreadsheet macro that is a part of the info models...I have NO idea what it is polling. Man, I must have REALLY been high that night!” James then drifted off into a self-absorbed review of his work, occasionally chuckling and shaking his head.
If it is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is that more knowledge, no matter the source, is critical. And James Lee is leading that charge any way he can.