Categories
Data

Improve Privacy, Speed, and Security with Server-side Tracking

Last week I converted my site’s tracking from the standard client-side script to a server-side tracking setup that sends Google Analytics all its data server-side using Google Tag Manager.

My Page Speed score improved dramatically (still room to improve). That’s one of the benefits Google touts, as well as more privacy and security control.

GTM still loads its JavaScript client-side and a single Google Analytics file, but it eliminates calls to URLs like https://www.google-analytics.com/collect that fire at page load and other events. Instead, that URL request happens server-side so the user’s experience isn’t impacted at all.

I wouldn’t say there are security or privacy benefits by default, but it certainly enables some. Namely, you can process data server-side before sending it to Google or anywhere else. For example, dropping third-party scripts on a site creates a lot of risk that can be mitigated by deciding, server-side, what data to actually make available to the third party.

I recently wrote about the growing privacy challenges. Server-side tracking helps, but certainly isn’t a silver bullet. Implementing server-side tracking adds a lot of complexity and requires more hands-on maintenance. The vanilla Google Analytics implementation can be configured via their UI to meet privacy requirements, but server-side settings are a bit more raw.

This video was the most helpful resource I found in setting up Tag Manager and Analytics. Thank you Julius Fedorovicius.

Subscribe to receive more content like this

Categories
Data

COVID-19 Deaths Compared to All Deaths in the U.S.

This chart shows a few things:

  1. Gray bars are the actual number of recorded deaths in the U.S. for the given week.
    1. The gray area in the latter 8 weeks also represent actual deaths, but are significantly incomplete while death certificates are still being processed.
  2. Red bars are the actual number of recorded COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
    1. The red area in the latter 8 weeks also represent actual COVID-19 deaths, but are significantly incomplete while death certificates are still being processed.
  3. The orange line is percent of expected deaths – the number of deaths for all causes for this week in 2020 compared to the average number across the same week in 2017–2019.
    1. The orange dotted line is where the currently available percent of expected deaths is, but is significantly incomplete while death certificates are still being processed.

The raw data is available from the CDC. It’s been copied into this Google Sheet in order to produce this chart.

Number of deaths reported in this table are the total number of deaths received and coded as of the date of analysis, and do not represent all deaths that occurred in that period. Data during this period are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes. This delay can range from 1 week to 8 weeks or more. Percent of expected deaths is the number of deaths for all causes for this week in 2020 compared to the average number across the same week in 2017–2019. Previous analyses of 2015–2016 provisional data completeness have found that completeness is lower in the first few weeks following the date of death (<25%), and then increases over time such that data are generally at least 75% complete within 8 weeks of when the death occurred.

CDC