Data Vis Dispatch,
December 7

The best of last week’s big and small data visualizations

Welcome back to the 25th edition of Data Vis Dispatch! Every week, we’ll be publishing a collection of the best small and large data visualizations we find, especially from news organizations — to celebrate data journalism, data visualization, simple charts, elaborate maps, and their creators. (This time, on a Wednesday because of some cloud problems.)

Recurring topics this week include democracy, California, and the omicron variant.

In COVID — and in general — there’s no doubt that the spread of the omicron variant has been the news of the week:

Financial Times: Omicron’s less severe cases prompt cautious optimism in South Africa, December 7
El País: ¿Por qué es inquietante la nueva variante de la covid? Los datos que tenemos de la ómicron y los que no, December 4
Financial Times: Jump in Covid infections pounds eurozone consumer activity, December 2

Although scientists don’t know much yet about this new variant, pressing forward with vaccination campaigns is still the best tool we have to fight the pandemic:

Patrick Stotz: “Besonders wichtig ist die Zahl der täglichen Erstimpfungen. Sie hat sich zuletzt mehr als verdoppelt. Und dennoch war sie auf dem Höhepunkt der Impfkampagne Anfang Mai siebenmal so hoch,” December 3 (Tweet)
The Economist: How prepared for Omicron are America and Europe?, December 3
The Guardian: Covid in England: how the NHS could be hit this winter, December 2
DW News: “Despite the risks, many countries didn’t grant people in prisons priority access to vaccines, which delayed their rollout significantly. Many are now catching up, but some, like France, are still lagging far behind. With the next pandemic winter already here, that’s a problem,” December 6 (Tweet, Article)

Do charts about supply chain disruptions belong in the “Pandemic” section? An ongoing debate here at the Data Vis Dispatch received some strong new evidence:

The New York Times: How the Supply Chain Crisis Unfolded, December 5
Straits Times: Why a Bicycle Takes 40 Days to Reach Singapore, December 3
Financial Times: Inflation tracker: the latest figures as countries grapple with rising prices, December 2

Political charts this week took a very abstract tone. On one hand, more people live in democracies than ever before. On the other hand, some of those democracies aren’t particularly democratic:

Our World in Data: 200 years ago, everyone lacked democratic rights. Now, billions of people have them, December 2
The Economist: Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy is not all that democratic, December 6
The Washington Post: Maryland redistricting at center of special session as GOP fires accusations of partisan gerrymandering, December 4

It’s not every week that the Dispatch has a California section, but let’s check on how things are going out there. The bad news — California consumes half of the oil originating in the Amazon rainforest, and some of it turns into air pollution with a very unequal impact:

NBC News: Crude reality: One U.S. state consumes half the oil from the Amazon rainforest, December 2
The San Francisco Chronicle: A new study using Google Street View cars shows where pollution is worst in Bay Area, December 1

The good news — California has one of the lowest concentrations of lead pipes in the U.S., not to mention a crack data team at the San Francisco Chronicle to investigate their hot dog situation:

The Economist: Where are America’s lead pipes?, December 2
The San Francisco Chronicle: S.F.’s new hot dog spot has 27 wacky creations. We ranked them so you can know which one is best, December 2

Another section we don’t run every week: big mammals. Enjoy it while it lasts:

National Geographic: Strength in Motion, November 30
National Geographic: “There is a movement underway to get bison—or buffalo, the term more often used in Native communities—back onto tribal lands in North America,” December 4 (Tweet)

It was another excellent week for maps, with great contributions from Le Monde, Axios, and the Washington Post:

Le Monde: Soutien à la voiture ou lutte contre la crise climatique : les politiques pris entre deux feux, December 2
Le Monde: Les villes d’Afrique face à leur avenir, December 2
Axios: Abortions could require 200-mile trips if Roe is overturned, December 1
The Washington Post: The Lost Local News Issue, November 30
The Economist: How regions near Stalin’s gulag benefit today from his victims, December 4
The New York Times: On Syria’s Ruins, a Drug Empire Flourishes, December 5
Financial Times: La Niña expected to intensify global rain and drought after second consecutive year, December 3
USA Today: Our warming climate is having a dramatic impact on precipitation. What does the data tell us about your state?, December 1
The Markup: Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them, December 2
The Economist: Tel Aviv is the world’s most expensive city, November 30

What else we found interesting

Inkyfada: Khadija, 45 ans, deux enfants et un mari à charge, 1690 dinars par mois, December 5
Le Devoir: Encore trop de collisions auto-vélo-piéton à Montréal, December 1
Unwanted Witness: There’s a spy in your pocket, December 1
Axios: Pandemic eating, December 4

Help us make this dispatch better! We’d love to hear which newsletters, blogs, or social media accounts we need to follow to learn about interesting projects, especially from less-covered parts of the world (Asia, South America, Africa). Write us at or leave a comment below.