Every morning, the first website I consult is the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) COVID-19 dashboard. It is the go-to resource to track the global pandemic. Public-health authorities use it to guide policies, with the dashboard featured prominently in emergency operation centers around the world. Researchers depend on it for their analysis and modeling. Virtually every news organization uses the JHU data as the basis for their reporting.
This indispensable resource was the brainchild of Lauren Gardner, an associate professor of engineering at JHU. When she and her graduate student Ensheng Dong saw a lack of reliable data tracking around the novel coronavirus, they decided to develop a real-time dashboard themselves—in one day. It went online on Jan. 22, and by early March, it was accessed more than a billion times per day.
In the face of an existential threat, Lauren took action. She didn’t wait for others—she stepped up first. She democratized data and filled a void of public-health leadership. Lives will be saved because of her proactive work.
Wen is an emergency physician and a public-health professor