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November 23, 2020

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Resource Center Named as a Time Magazine Best Invention of 2020

Image of Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory provide essential data collection, curation and aggregation for the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which delivers the most accurate information available on the pandemic.

Credit: Johns Hopkins


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The annual list of Best Inventions, announced Thursday morning, recognizes 100 groundbreaking inventions that, according to Time, “are making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun.”

Credit: Time magazine

Time magazine named the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, a website that has helped the world better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic, to its list of 2020 Best Inventions, calling it “2020’s Go-To Data Source.” Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) provide essential data collection, curation and aggregation — including important analysis and illustrative visualizations of that data — for the site, which delivers the most accurate information available on the pandemic.

The annual list, announced Thursday morning, recognizes 100 groundbreaking inventions that, according to Time, “are making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun.” The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is included in the Wellness category. Time built the list of winners from nominations submitted by its editors and correspondents around the world. Nominees were evaluated on factors including originality, effectiveness, ambition and impact.

Johns Hopkins launched the global COVID-19 Dashboard, led by Whiting School of Engineering associate professor Dr. Lauren Gardner, in early 2020, and it quickly became a leading source of centralized data on the pandemic, allowing governments, the media and the public to visualize and combat its rapid spread. As the global impact from COVID-19 increased, the university expanded those dashboard efforts to create a larger Coronavirus Resource Center (CRC). The APL team came on board in late January to streamline and automate the dashboard’s data intake and analysis process, and its system now collects confirmed reports of coronavirus cases and deaths from more than 300 data sources, including the World Health Organization and international and local health agencies. For the U.S. map, the system draws from state- and county-level reports, and sometimes local news outlets that supply machine-readable data.

Since its launch in March, the CRC has been viewed nearly a billion times by users around the world.

“The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center exemplifies the vital role that universities like ours are playing in this moment, providing accurate information and evidence-based analysis that shapes sound policy and saves lives,” said Johns Hopkins president Ronald J. Daniels. “We are pleased to be recognized among such exceptional company on this year’s list and, above all, to know we have the trust of millions of people around the globe.”

“We are honored by this designation and the value that this resource has brought to the country and the world in the midst of this pandemic,” said APL director Ralph Semmel. “The impact, power and value of the CRC demonstrates the best results of bringing together the incredible capabilities found across Johns Hopkins.”

The continuously updated data tracked on the resource center is relied on by the public, government agencies and the media to make informed decisions and understand trends in cases and deaths, testing, contact tracing and other public health responses. The CRC also offers original analysis from every Johns Hopkins division, regular live events featuring top experts, and educational content — all of which is free and available to people worldwide.

For JHU, the dashboard has been a groundbreaking endeavor, pooling the collaborative energy of specialists across the university — software developers, systems engineers, data scientists, mapping experts, digital curators — who may never have crossed paths otherwise but now coordinate shifts around the clock and keep in touch constantly through Zoom and Slack.

“Being part of the interdisciplinary team that has provided this service to the nation and the world has been an extraordinary experience,” said Sheri Lewis, manager of APL’s Health Protection and Assurance program. “As we all look for ways to help society navigate through this pandemic, we’re proud of our contributions to this invaluable resource and all of Johns Hopkins’ efforts to combat the virus.”

The Coronavirus Resource Center operates through a coordinated response across every academic division of the university, as well as the Centers for Civic Impact and APL. The ongoing work of the Coronavirus Resource Center is made possible through philanthropic support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Media contact: Amanda Zrebiec, 240-592-2794, Amanda.Zrebiec@jhuapl.edu

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.