Since the time of the Antonine Plague, humankind has been endangered by deadly diseases of epic proportions. Today, instead of leaving people’s lives solely to fate, governments manage risks by employing technological tools.
The COVID-19 pandemic is hardly the first acute health crisis humanity has faced. Since the time of the Antonine Plague, humankind has been endangered by deadly diseases of epic proportions. What’s changed with time, however, is the approach to such threats. Today, instead of leaving people’s lives solely to fate, governments manage risks by employing technological tools. These allow officials to contain the spread of viruses, as well as identify and support the most vulnerable society members. Here are some of the cases of how technological instruments monitor the pandemic outbreak and help make timely decisions backed by data.
The COVID-19 Health Dashboard was designed to help local authorities identify the high-risk communities in Canada. The data rendered from Canada’s Community Health Survey gives insights into the level of risk that communities are exposed to. This dashboard displays numbers of seniors aged 70 and over with respect to the overall population density in a certain area. Additionally, it reveals the percentage of people with underlying health problems (COPD, cancer, hypertension). By merely using this interactive map, anyone can view the situation in the communities across provinces and check available medical institutions together with the offered services.
Montgomery County, PA, USA
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the local government in Montgomery County set up a website with coronavirus-related resources. Here the citizens of the county can access a map with the sites of food distribution for adults and children in need during the lockdown. Unlike the Canadian solution, this map doesn't focus solely on the number of cases in the county, but it also includes data from the neighboring ones: Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Philadelphia, Burks, Lehigh, and Lancaster. Having a clear picture outside allows local authorities to control the situation in the county by keeping an eye on the potential threats and promptly addressing them.
Aspectum, a US company specializing in location intelligence, in collaboration with Predicio, a mobile-location and user behavior data company, collected and mapped data to reveal human mobility during quarantine in the French capital. One of the reasons behind the analysis was numerous media reports accusing Parisians of actively violating the lockdown restrictions. The map contains a dataset of 290,000 (about 13% of Paris’ population) users and their movement history in the city within a 20-day period. Also, a reference group of 79 people tentatively identified as tourists was studied. The analysis showed that only about 30% of Parisians were active outside their households during the first seven days of lockdown. As for tourists, although they did travel to nearly every part of the city, the crowding in popular attractions drastically diminished.
Aspectum also mapped data from the US healthcare system to help identify groups of people exposed to greater danger from the COVID-19 virus and where they can receive treatment. The map assembles information about the percentage of the population who are elderly (65+),, the rate of adults that suffer from obesity and diabetes, as well as locations of hospitals and their bed capacity. With the help of this map, government officials can identify the areas that are especially threatened by the coronavirus. Also, it allows the authorities to assess how ready a neighborhood is to meet the outbreak by comparing the bed capacity of a hospital to the number of infected. Every Aspectum user can view the data and incorporate it into their own analytical research.
Baltimore, MD, USA
This initiative is designed to take care of the most vulnerable populations in Baltimore. The city council administration promptly reacted to the lurking threat and prepared an interactive map that displays the availability of the city’s resources. On this map, citizens can find sites of food distribution for children and seniors together with addresses of clinics for people that have no insurance. All assets can be viewed by location. By clicking on an icon, residents find additional details about each asset. Ever since the creation of the map, The City Council President, Brandon Scott, has been encouraging his community to submit their opinions about the project, its performance, and what is missing.
The coronavirus pandemic has already infected over 4,5 million people causing the planet-wide lockdown and bringing hundreds of thousands of deaths in only half a year. At the same time, the measures to minimize the crisis’s impact have been unprecedented too. Such responses, largely supported by technological solutions, have saved many lives all over the world. That is why it’s so crucial for governments not only to stay aware of the technology that can help, but also to employ it for generating valuable insights to address the crisis effectively.
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