The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has left authorities around the world struggling to find a vaccine or ways to contain the virus. While a set of health experts are banking on warmer weather conditions to slow down, if not completely halt, the Coronavirus, it is yet not clear whether the coming months will bring any respite to the world.
In such a scenario, apart from lockdowns and social distancing, it is very important to map the virus, to understand its pattern, the worst-affected parts, and to make informed decisions based on scientific data. Also Read: Here are some of the best maps tracking Coronavirus updates
The GeoCHOROS Geospatial Analysis and Research Group at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, has created a web-based platform that provides a toolkit as well as a working and research space for the spatiotemporal analysis and geo-visualization of Coronavirus-related world data. Through this platform, the users can easily visualize analytics and display them directly on thematic or choropleth maps, charts and graphs, to identify patterns by interactively changing what data is displayed and how it is processed.
Those behind the initiative claim that this is the only platform that gives the “true picture and spread of the pandemic”, especially since it displays the Coronavirus numbers (cases, deaths, recovered), apart from weighing and measuring them with respect to other parameters such as a country’s total population, area, density, percentage of elderlies, and eventually generating information with respect to temporal patterns and intensity through graphs and maps. “Unlike other platforms, it is the only one that gives a true picture of the size and magnitude of the problem, in each country and worldwide, and makes it easier for the visitor to make comparisons, even estimates of evolution,” the Research Group was quoted as saying.
“The reason we developed this platform is because this is a phenomenon that people evaluate based on 3-4 key facts – how many cases there are, how many deaths and how many have recovered. But these numbers need to be weighted according to the country they refer to,” Professor George Fotios was quoted as saying, while elaborating on the rationale behind the initiative to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. The project is being supervised by Yorgos N. Photis, Professor of Geographical Analysis and Locational Planning, National Technical University of Athens, and is developed by George Panagiotopoulos, a PhD student at the varsity. The platform uses John Hopkins University GitHub Database as the primary data source.
Earlier, the World Health Organisation created a Situation Dashboard to provide the latest updates on the Coronavirus outbreak which include frequently updated numbers of infected people, deaths, affected countries and other related data. Similarly, a map called Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) was the first to emerge on the scene. However, since the website relies upon publicly available data from various sources, the number and statistics may not be fully accurate. At their end, giants like Microsoft and Esri have come up with interactive trackers and story maps to keep the world up-to-date on the spread of the virus.