Building a COVID19 Data Dashboard for Rhode Island

Full version at covidRI.com (no longer active)

This week I created a simple dashboard for COVID19 related data released by the state of Rhode Island. It tracks the following key COVID19 metrics in Rhode Island:

  • Positive COVID19 cases
  • Hospitalizations
  • ICU stays
  • Patients on Ventilators (new as of 4/15)
  • Deaths
  • Testing data
  • Cases by City/Town (now a map rather than table)

Both current/cumulative and historical data for these metrics are shown with graphs and day over day change annotated to visualize trends.

Initially, data was only being shared via a shared Google Sheet from the state’s Department of Health so using Google’s Datastudio platform was an easy way to visualize the data.

Today that sheet is no longer in use (that’s a good thing!) so I’ve updated the dashboard using CovidTracking.com‘s excellent API to continue to bring in live data automatically. The COVID Tracking Project is a volunteer organization that is bringing disparate data from US states together into a single dataset and providing publicly available APIs to access everything.

A screenshot of JSON data for Rhode Island from the COVID Tracking Project
JSON data from the COVID Tracking Project

Using their API is a bit overkill, and it’d be nice if the government could provide a similar service, but for now it’s the best way to get comprehensive data in the US right now.

I poll the API every few hours via a simple JSON request to a filtered dataset with just RI’s data to avoid pulling in a much larger dataset than needed. Documentation for CTP’s APIs can be found here.

Typically RI DOH updates their data once daily in the afternoon, but as CTP sometimes synthesizes data from different sources I wanted to make sure what was being shown was the most up to date version.

The RI Department of Health dashboard and my original V1 dashboard release (below)

Since I originally created this tool, the state has also released an ArcGIS-based dashboard of their own with a similar format using Power BI and Datawrapper. I’m now embedding their map in my dashboard to visually depict cases by City instead of displaying a table.

Their hub is accessible at https://health.ri.gov/data/covid-19/.

Update: As the vaccination efforts have rolled out in RI, local news organizations like WPRI are doing much better jobs at sharing data and information from RI’s Department of Health and I’ve taken down public access to my dashboards.

By Ian Servin

I help brands and creatives make better marketing videos. Also an Emergency Management graduate student at Georgetown and a certified private pilot.