Google Trends: Global Coronavirus Epidemic and Australian Wildfire Disasters

By Ren Busch

Coronavirus Concerns Spreads Globally

As 2019 came to an end and the new year followed, flu season was beginning to run its cycle beginning in December and ending around February. According to Duquesne University, flu season can even sometimes continue into March. They provide different guidelines for how to avoid getting the flu and spreading it. This season, however, was not only affected by the flu, but also a much deadlier virus that the world wasn’t prepared for.

Jan. 15 was the first reported case of coronavirus made public by China. 106 lives have been taken since this first report in Wuhan, China and over 4,500 cases have been confirmed within mainland China. These Chinese cities that have been affected have been put under lockdown, barring people from traveling and attempting to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, within the past 7 days there has been an increasing amount of searches related to Coronavirus and traveling. As more cases get reported, travel bans will become stricter as damage control is done. This outbreak of coronavirus is very similar to the 2003 outbreak of the SARS Coronavirus, so China is doing everything it can to prevent that loss amount from recurring.

Comparison between Coronavirus and the term travel in relation to travel bans.

5 cases have been reported within the United States, affecting cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. Each case, the person with the virus had been traveling from China. Globally there are more than 70 confirmed cases within 17 different places outside of China, which reinforces the global panic for how widespread this epidemic may come despite the travel bans that have been placed on it.

Australian Bushfires Continue to Raise Climate Change Questions

The bushfires within Australia continue to rage within the continent. Google searches show the affected areas and provide links to donations to help those affected by these bushfires. The fires have claimed at least 31 lives, destroyed thousands of homes, and burned more than 27 million acres of land, affecting a vast amount of the wildlife in that area.

New South Wales is currently being hit with these fires. 3 American firefighters that had volunteered to help extinguish the fires had lost their lives this past Thursday when their air tanker crashed. A memorial service will be held for them on Feb. 23.

According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, within the past 7 days there has been a decent correlation between Australia and the search term fire worldwide. With how extreme this natural disaster has been, it can have lasting effects on climate change, which in turn affect the planet as a whole. Although, it was never just an Australian issue, now a global interest in climate change and its effects on the world has grown.

Comparison between searches for Australia and the word fire.

NASA provided a new animation in response to the catastrophic bushfires in Australia to show how this disaster has affected the atmosphere and can globally affect anyone. The animation also shows the effects of Hurricane Dorian, which had taken place from August to September of 2019, as well as some major fires that had affected South American and Indonesia.

Despite increase in security cameras, ridership down and crimes up on Cermak-Chinatown Red Line


Street-level view of the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop, facing east. Photo by Kyle Johnson.

By Karley Fontana, Kyle Johnson and Ren Busch

Running from the southside neighborhood of Roseland all the way to Rogers Park, the Red Line stretches 26 miles over 33 stops, including stops in neighborhoods that are high in violence and crime. The Cermak-Chinatown stop, in particular, has seen a dramatic decrease in riders in 2019, and crime-related incidents are questionably to blame.

According to the City of Chicago Data Portal, the Cermak Chinatown stop saw 1,459,134 riders in 2018, an average of 3,998 riders per day.

In 2019, the Chicago Transit Authority has calculated 679,945 riders up to June 30, 2019, an average of 3,757 riders per day. These numbers, of course, do not reflect turnstile jumpers. Assuming that the ridership will roughly double over the last half of the year, the Cermak-Chinatown stop will have seen close to 100,000 less riders than 2018.

In 2018, Chicago saw 319 crimes on or around the Chinatown-Cermak Red Line. 95 of these crimes were filed as assault or battery. 148 of these crimes were robberies or assaults, roughly 46% of total crimes.

In 2019, Chicago has seen 381 crimes on or around the Chinatown-Cermak Red Line stop, assuming the victims contacted authorities. 135 of these crimes contained assault or battery charges, and 215 incidents were robberies or theft, about 56% of the total crimes. There has also been one homicide. That means there has been a 19.4% increase in crimes at the Cermak-Chinatown stop alone. Are crime-related incidents to blame for this decrease in ridership?

CTA declined to comment.

Farhana Chowdhury, a junior at UIC, says she uses the CTA every day for errands or hanging out with friends.

“I don’t notice anything bad going on, usually, but I have noticed the [increase in] cameras. That makes me question if the area is bad.”

Chowdhury also stated that she avoids going to the South Side or taking certain lines at night.

“It’s better to take an Uber,” she said.


El stations and buses have seen an increase in HD security cameras in the last year. Photo by Karley Fontana

CTA’s website boasts the safety and security of it’s customers, claiming to have 32,000 cameras across the transit system. According to a May 2018 Chicago Tribune article, the CTA plans to install $33 million worth of new surveillance equipment at El stations over the course of five years.  In April of 2019, the CTA finished installing 1,000 new HD cameras that cost $3.5 million.

Despite the new camera installations, crime continues to rise across all stops, the Tribune said in a follow-up article. However, in some instances, the cameras have been helpful in apprehending suspects of criminal activity. The suspected killer of the UIC student, Ruth George, who was assaulted and killed in November of 2019, was located and apprehended due to the CTA Blue Line cameras.

Although this particular incident proved that cameras a helpful edition to the CTA rail system, many riders still feel otherwise.

UIC student Robert Hatch says he drives from home to campus, but he uses the CTA on a regular basis to visit colleagues.

“There’s been many events, and I have one actually recorded. It was a verbal conversation between two people that sounded like it was going to lead to something bad. I don’t know what the outcome of that was, though, due to me leaving the train. There’s definitely a lot of stuff going on. Pretty much all of the stops are the same, except for the Red Line. Everything on that is pretty dangerous.”

“‘Keep your eyes to yourself,’ that’s what people always say with Chicago, but it’s a little bit more than that,” Hatch said. “There’s a lot of things that you’re not going to normally see when you go on any line, but specifically the Red Line… it’s pretty sad how frequent events like these that I’ve been talking about happen. It happens almost every day. You have to be careful around that.”

Joanna Li, a resident of Chinatown and employee of Tous Les Jours on Archer Avenue, said she avoids taking the Red Line train when her late-night shifts are over.

“I haven’t witnessed any crimes, but I have heard them happening. I feel safe living in the area I’m in, because I’m not on a busy street. I know that things are happening on busier streets and in the central area of Chinatown, because it’s more crowded and touristy. I have my managers or my parents drive me home when my shift is over. I think the cameras on trains and buses are helpful, but I think maybe CTA should hire more security guards to monitor every stop” she said.

Despite increase in digital security measures, crimes have increased on all El trains, Although riders have decreased in 2019, crimes have remarkably soared on and around the Cermak-Chinatown El train station. If cameras can’t increase the safety and security of Chicago’s citizens, perhaps other measures should be taken.

Graphic made through Venngage

Reporting Crime on the CTA

You can report incidents that are non-life threatening to CTA Customer Service 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282). You also can choose to file a police report by calling the local police non-emergency hotline for the municipality in which the incident occurred (311) or by visiting a nearby police station.

Population Control in Chinese Megacities

By Ren Busch

As one of China’s fastest growing and highly populated cities, Shanghai has been one of the focuses for city restrictions in terms of area the city expands to. While these cities grew for the sake of manufacturing goods, there was also a rise in population growth as workers migrated from the countryside to the city. In reaction to this population growth, the city was forced to expand to accomodate more people living within its borders. Watch this timelapse to witness just how quickly the city of Shanghai grew from 1984 to 2018.

In order to decrease the population to prevent another uprising in, what is considered “big city disease,” each city placed a population growth cap. According to The Guardian, Shanghai plans to make its population cap 25 million, and the city in 2018 sat at a population of 24.2 million. Part of this population reform includes forcing migrant workers out of their illegal housing and into smaller cities outside of Shanghai. A home that housed four immigrant families would now house one singular rich person, for example. The government was forcing a divide between the new upper-middle class and the poor working class while using the population cap as an excuse.

The United States is facing similar issues in regards to population, yet the issues within the States are reversed. The more wealthy and economically sound cities lack the appeal for migrant workers so the American approach to population control is to make cities more appealing for population growth instead of the Chinese approach for population caps.

The geographic viewpoint of Shanghai’s city mass in 2018 seen through Google Earth Engine.

Illinois Craft Breweries. Got Beer?

By: Ren Busch

A craft brewer is small and independently owned within the United States, according to the Brewers Association. These craft breweries extend across the United States, and 229 of them are located in Illinois alone. These numbers rank Illinois 13th in the nation for number of breweries within the state.

Compared to the national craft brewery economic contribution of $79.1 billion, Illinois has a contribution of $3.2 billion alone. Illinois ranks 7th in the nation for economic impact. Breaking those numbers down, this means a $346 impact per capita. Without the craft breweries, Illinois would have a huge economic loss.

Graphic created by Ren Busch using Venngage.

Crime and Police Station Locations

By Ren Busch

Due to its high population, Chicago is also known for its high level of crimes committed. In less than 24 hours, over two hundred crimes were committed on October 16th, 2019. The crime data pulled from the Chicago Data Portal was filtered for this specific date because the dataset was far too large for a map like this.

Despite this high population number, there are only 23 police stations located within the city (data grabbed from the Chicago Data Portal). Compared to the amount of crimes committed within just 12 hours, there was an imbalance.

The map brought to light whether or not police presence needs to be increased through more police stations as crime rates continue to rise within Chicago.

Top Salaries Among St. Louis Cardinal Players in 2019

By Ren Busch

As new players come and go, it was interesting to take a look at just how much these athletes are getting paid, especially the one who are considered fan favorites. The graphic below shows the top ten highest salaries of the St. Louis Cardinals players.

A comparison of the top ten highest salaries among the St. Louis Cardinals players.

With the World Series being right around the corner, it brought the teams headed there into the limelight, which was why this became an analysis of the St. Louis Cardinals salaries. The team was popular across the United States, so it wasn’t surprising to find that the fan favorites of the team made much more than the lesser known players on the team.

Out of all the players, Yadier Molina made the most at $20million, but he had also been with the Cardinals since the 2000 MLB June Amateur Draft. He made his debut in 2004, and had grown immensely in popularity since. He had multiple awards given to him throughout his career, and every year he seemed to reach new bests for himself. By the end of his 3 year contract, he was expected to reach $60 million as his salary.

In comparison, a lesser known player, Marcell Ozuna, made a significantly smaller amount than Molina. His salary for the year reached $12.25 million, which was still a large amount for a player that had been traded. Ozuna joined the Cardinals in 2017, so in comparison to Molina who had been with the St. Louis Cardinals since 2004, Ozuna’s salary was actually rather high for the year. Unlike Molina’s contract, Ozuna’s contract was only for 2019, so he was only expected to make $12.25 million for his salary.

Google Trends: K-Pop Idol’s Death Brings Back Old News and Donald Trump Does the Same

By Ren Busch

Tragedy Strikes Once More

On October 14th, Korean entertainment was hit with the tragic death of k-pop star Sulli, whose real name is Choi Jin-ri. Like most suicides, it came as a shock to both those close to her and her fans throughout the world, and it also caused a rise in google searches related to similar incidents. According to an analysis of Google search data, search results showed a high interest in Sulli’s name, but also searches regarding past instances of Korean idols passing away due to suicide have also increased compared to the rest of the year.

Comparison between searches for Sulli’s name and Jonghyun’s name, another idol who passed away due to suicide.

Although there is no direct correlation between their deaths besides the situations being similar, it was interesting to see that as search results for her name increased, search results for other idols’ names who died in similar fashions also increased. Kim Jonghyun’s death was a huge tragedy in 2017 and a rise in mental health awareness followed, yet idols continue to pass away due to mental health issues and being overloaded because of their professions.

By analyzing the search data, it showed that when a new tragedy occurs people are likely to search for similar tragedies that happened in the past.

donald trump faces threat of impeachment

Many news articles had come out in regards to the threat of impeachment that President Trump faces. According to an analysis of Google search data, a trend between Donald Trump and impeachment sharply increased on September 24th. This was the day that the House launched a formal inquiry of impeachment against Trump.

Increased searches in both Donald Trump and impeachment began around September 24th

Since the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump faced many accusations that resulted in a portion of the American people wanting him impeached. Now it seemed as if some of those voice had been heard as Nancy Pelosi issued the inquiry to impeach Trump.

Despite the extremities of this inquiry, according to an analysis of the Google search data, the trend between Trump and impeachment began to fizzle out over time.