This morning Microsoft launched a COVID-19 tracking tool to visualize the number of new coronavirus cases across the world. The tracker, which is accessible on both desktop and mobile browsers, aggregates data from the CDC, the WHO, the European CDC, and Wikipedia.
Visual aids are imperative in providing a better understanding of the pandemic to the general public. Microsoft’s quick work on this tracker is commendable; it’s extremely easy to use and will surely prove to be an invaluable resource for the public as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Each mapping tool comes with its own strengths and limitations; the NYT maps show many different views and are accompanied by helpful graphics about recovery rates, while the Johns Hopkins map is highly detailed and technical.
But neither is particularly easy to navigate if you’re unused to using internet-based mapping tools or understanding graphics. Sure, the millennial and Gen Z crowd will have no problem with these, but those with the highest risk of complications from COVID-19 — those over 60 years old — are typically less adept at using internet technology. By making its tool ultra-easy to use, Bing made its map accessible to those who need it the most.
Room for improvement — This being said, Bing’s tracker isn’t perfect. Not every country has detailed information about where cases have been reported — right now the United States is the only part of the map with detailed information about which areas have reported cases. It’s unclear as to why this is the case, but hopefully Bing will continue to improve its map’s detail in the coming weeks.
With COVID-19 spreading at an unprecedented rate across the world, it’s time for everyone to pitch in. That includes corporations. Microsoft’s tracking tool is a commendable effort to keep the public up to date in the face of fear and misinformation.