As the new coronavirus has spread around the world, many people have begun to rely on online maps to understand it. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University used a software package called GIS to create an interactive dashboard with a map, numerical data and charts. The New York Times has presented updated information about where cases appear in two types of non-interactive maps: a world map with the number of cases written over each country, and maps of the United States, East Asia and Europe with proportional circles over provinces and cities.It’s not only ordinary citizens who rely on maps like this. Acting deputy homeland security secretary Ken Cuccinelli asked Twitter for help when he briefly wasn’t able to view the Johns Hopkins map, and complained about the institution’s bad timing in limiting access.This crisis isn’t the first time that mapping has played an important role in tracking the spread of a disease. A celebrated map of a cholera outbreak in 1850s London played an important (though probably exaggerated) role in changing how Britain dealt with epidemics.But maps — like every other way of presenting complex information — have drawbacks as well as benefits. Inevitably, they highlight some aspects of the


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