In Hong Kong, almost 200 people have passed away from covid since January 2020. In the daily news updates, those who passed away are reported as case numbers #595, #1487, #1348, #1776, yet their lives are more than just that. This project serves as a remembrance of those lost to the pandemic, along with as many personal anecdotes as we could collect, from the lives that were lived.
As the pandemic got worse in Hong Kong, we felt like it was important to provide a record of those who have fallen victim to the disease. Beyond just collecting data, we were able to collect stories from those who have passed away.
One 88-year-old man visited his wife at a nursing home daily, before he succumbed to the disease. One daughter told us that she kept his 86-year-old dad’s dentures after he passed away. Another daughter told us that she wasn’t able to see his 80-year-old dad before he died because of miscommunication with quarantine officials.
Data doesn’t have to be impersonal. In these lives that were lost, there are many stories of affection, regrets, struggles. This project helped provide a chance for readers to remember those who were lost in this pandemic.
We collected case data through various government sources, which is published in pdf format, in a google spreadsheet, and added additional anecdotal information as we collected it. We drew the illustrations of the figures representing people with charcoal. We used d3.js for data visualization and web interactivity.
What was the hardest part of this project?
As there is limited public information about those who have passed away, beyond just age, gender and place of residence, we had some difficulty in collecting anecdotes at first. We pieced together small bits of information from the daily coronavirus briefing when officials would announce new deaths. Along with the initial publish, we made a public call for those who have lost loved ones to reach out to us. We luckily received some responses and we were able to interview family members of several coronavirus victims, who shared details with us, as well as complaints against government arrangements that made it difficult for them to say goodbye.
What can others learn from this project?
To find families of those who have passed away from covid, we made public calls to action and were able to reach people this way. The feedback we got from this project have also taught us the importance and effectiveness of providing a more humanized approach to data stories.