Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Gates Foundation) tasked us to create an interactive data visualization to support Bill Gates’ presentation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, 2017, on the subject of vaccines and disease outbreaks. It’s our second piece for the Foundation.
It’s not hard to imagine that the faster a vaccine can be developed, the more quickly it can be put to work saving lives.
The trouble is, vaccine development is extremely slow, while pandemics don’t have a speed limit.
Very slow in some cases. For example, the vaccine for typhoid fever was first tested in 1896, but only came into safe and effective use from 1994 – that’s 98 years! Longer than most lifetimes.
Breakthroughs in science and technology mean that, within the decade, it may be possible to develop vaccines much more swiftly – in weeks, rather than months or years.
To show the extremely complex process of vaccine development, we worked hard to break it down into simple steps for the audience. These were: Code, Validate, Produce, Distribute, Adapt. We included this as an illustrated ‘chapter’ in the piece, to help give more context about vaccine development in the future.
For the timeline, we went back to 1899 for our first outbreak data. We plotted nearly 70 outbreaks, up to 2016.
Using a split-screen device on a timeline, users could easily compare the frightening rate of outbreaks directly against the far slower-moving vaccine development.
To bring home just how many lives could be saved with the earliest possible introduction of a vaccine, we brought in two outbreak scenarios – Ebola and flu – for users to explore. We worked closely with experts at the Gates Foundation, the University of Florida (on the Ebola data) and the Institute for Disease Modeling (on the Pandemic Flu data), to ensure that we represented realistic hypothetical scenarios.
The results are dramatic.
After Bill Gates’ presentation of Outpacing Pandemics at Davos, the piece was on display in the Guggenheim Museum’s Goal 17 Partnership Space. The audience could also explore the piece on tablets in their own time, in a special area set aside for this.
Here’s what Bill had to say about the piece…