April 28, 2020. It’s 4 am in India. It’s been over an hour since the millennials running covid19india. org last updated their dashboard tracking the pandemic outbreak in the country. Many of the site’s 90,000-odd Twitter followers are frantically tagging it in their tweets.
Vijendra Rana sounds restless. “Uttarakhand update not good,” he tweets to @covid19indiaorg.
“The district-wise data (in Gujarat) is not updating. Only the active cases are increasing,” posts Kabir Khan.
Please put up a column for doubling rate and five-daysmovi“ng-average of active cases. The picture will be clearer. Won’t take too much to code,” suggests Diptendu Bhatacharya in his tweet.
It’s half past 4 now. The home page still says, “Last updated at 3:01 am.” Rana, Khan and Bhatacharya barely have 100 Twitter followers between them, but they mirror the sentiments of thousands in their anxiety and inquisitiveness in these Covid-19 days. Over the last six weeks, dashboards likecovid19india. org, covindia.com and againstcovid19.com/india have become the first port of call for people looking for up-todate data on the outbreak in India.
Among those tracking global numbers, the likes of ourworldindata.org/coronavirus, covid19stats.live and ncov2019.live have gained traction with millions of users worldwide. From ordinary folk to policymakers, corporates to research firms and even government agencies, many are actively seeking authentic information on Covid-19’s impact on human lives — to stay updated and avoid misinformation-induced panic.
“They are the best source of data available right now since the government doesn’t give granular data in one place,” says Sid Rupani, 36, a Delhi-based supply chain consultant, who actively follows two dashboards for professional and personal reasons.
Without the dashboards, Vaidehi Tandel won’t be able to do half her work. Tandel is an economist with the Mumbai based think tank IDFC Institute. Her job requires processing data across several metrics in real-time, in order to give inputs to governments and other stakeholders. “Having access to these dashboards eliminates one giant step in our process as we don’t have to approach individual government bodies for data anymore,” says the 32-year-old Mumbaikar.