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Geospatial technology must for limiting COVID-19 impact

With the advancement of GIS technology, it can play a greater role in descriptive, predictive and prescriptive stages of combating the COVID-19 global pandemic, says says SuperMap CEO Michael SONG

How do you view the larger impact of COVID-19 on the global health and economy?

After the pandemic, people will pay more and more attention to health and will develop better public health habits. Further, governments will invest more resources to improve the public health environment. It is through such changes and efforts that the human civilization has made progress in major crisis.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the global economy, especially industries like tourism, transportation and entertainment. However, it has also created opportunities for the wider application of Internet services, such as online meetings and online shopping. Although many countries have been put under strict lockdown, most of us are still active on the Internet and hold the belief that these negative effects on the economy will pass, and people will return to normal life quickly.

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How can geospatial data and technology help in mitigating this crisis, and how have SuperMap’s products and solutions been helpful in battling the Novel Coronavirus?

During the SARS outbreak 17 years ago, geospatial technology played a very important role in boosting the response efforts. By joining hands with China CDC at that time, SuperMap analyzed the characteristics of the epidemic, its spatial distribution, and delineated the level of prevention in different areas through GIS technology, which can also be used for medical facilities distribution and allocation management in different areas.

With the advancement of GIS technology, it can play a greater role in descriptive, predictive and prescriptive stages of combating COVID-19. SuperMap has built a large number of application systems in various provinces, cities and districts in China to fight the virus and ensure work resumption based on SuperMap GIS technology. For instance, the epidemic thematic service map and the epidemic prevention and control dynamic map system.

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Through the signaling Big Data of mobile phones, SuperMap can obtain personnel activities between different regions to further predict and analyze the epidemic development and to develop corresponding prevention strategies. Furthermore, through the epidemiological investigation of the confirmed cases and the personnel movement track analysis of mobile phone signaling with permission, the people who came in close contact with those infected can be found and tracked, which can contribute to the formulation of more elaborate prevention and control measures.

How do you see the short and long-term impact of the current pandemic on the geospatial industry?

As part of the global economy, to some extent, the geospatial industry has been affected by the pandemic. There are problems such as clients not being able to work normally and enterprise staff not being able to travel for business. However, things are not as bad as they are for industries like tourism and transportation. The geospatial industry is still showing a vigorous development momentum and we believe that it will continue to maintain high growth even after the pandemic.

Moving forward, what do you think will be the best strategy for rebuilding business and economy?

Although GIS played an important role in the field of public health informatization 17 years ago, the technology has developed quite rapidly in the last decade. Many new technologies, such as spatial Big Data and GeoAI have not yet been fully applied in public health informatization and have only been used in simple emergency response applications. After COVID-19, geospatial enterprises should put forward opinions and suggestions for public health-related informatization, and actively develop relevant solutions to promote wider and deeper GIS technology applications in public health sector.

SuperMap has undertaken the mission of “Innovating IT Value with Geo-Intelligence”. On the one hand, the development of geospatial technology should be deeply integrated with new IT technologies, and on the other hand, it must meet all major social needs in order to bring more value to the world. Also, SuperMap hopes we can create cutting-edge technologies, and light up every corner of the world with Geo-Intelligence.

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