Drains your computer's resources at the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths in your state.
Pandemic Pulse is an application that drains your computer's resources at the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths in your state. It exhausts your CPU power at the rate of local infections and dims your screen at the rate of local COVID-19- related deaths. The application recontextualizes relevant epidemiological data about the pandemic and tries to make it relatable and tangible on a personal level. Feeding off our computers, it thrives on the same platform we use to track news of COVID-19 and its impacts. This time, through our devices, we can experience specific effects— a certain (computer) slowness, a dimming (of the screen)— from its omnipresence.
Know someone who's not taking COVID-19 seriously?
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 an international health emergency on January 30, 2020, the virus has dominated the news. The pandemic has profoundly shaped our “new normal.” News reports frame the virus’s effects chiefly in terms of either epidemiological rates (of morbidity and mortality) or lost capital: profits and jobs lost. Simultaneously, especially outside of COVID-19 “hot spots” filled with ambulance sirens, the virus somehow remains abstract, invisible, and intangible to so many.
National figures for COVID-19 infections and deaths are so large that they strike many of us as simultaneously overwhelming and meaningless or incomprehensible. Meanwhile, lockdowns and other mandates have made our everyday lives devoid of physical touch and in-person interactions, and have instead rendered our computers and phones as the primary or even sole means through which we experience, understand, or engage with the larger, “outside” world during this global pandemic.
Pandemic Pulse does not alter any persistent data on your hard drive, nor does it permanently change anything on your computer. Once you start the application, Pandemic Pulse runs background processes that stress your CPU (via common diagnostic tools) and adjusts your screen’s brightness (by applying an overlay on top of your desktop), based on COVID-19 statistics in your selected region. When you stop or close the application, these processes end completely and your CPU and display return to their original states. The code does not do anything to intentionally damage your computer, however as with any software, please use at your own risk. For more information on Pandemic Pulse’s codebase, please see the GitHub repository.
The “infection rate” is calculated as the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks, divided by the state population. The state-specific “infection rate” stresses your CPU on a 1:100 scale. (A 0.1% infection rate in your state would strain your CPU’s processing speed by 10%.) The “death rate” is calculated as the number of people who have died from COVID-19, divided by the number of those who have tested positive in a given state. The state-specific “death rate” dims your screen’s brightness on a 1:50 scale. (A 0.1% death rate in your state would dim your screen by 20%.) Both the deaths and positive cases are for just the specified state, over the past 2 weeks.
All United States COVID-19 data previously came from https://covidtracking.com/, however as of March 7, 2021 this service no longer collects new data. Pandemic Pulse now uses the CDC "United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State over Time" dataset. More information about the kind of data and accuracy can be found at https://data.cdc.gov/Case-Surveillance/United-States-COVID-19-Cases-and-Deaths-by-State-o/9mfq-cb36.
The project is currently using the data provided for the US states and territories. If you'd like to provide additional locations please contribute them.