AN EMERGENCY ALERT

In less than three months since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan in December 2019, the pandemic has brought the entire world to its knees. As humanity collectively braces up for the most trying times since World War II, there is suddenly a realization that despite tremendous advancements in science and technology, our healthcare facilities are inadequate, especially in the face of an unknown enemy. That health infrastructure can break down during major disease outbreaks was evident during Ebola and H1N1 outbreaks, even though they were not half as lethal. What the world needs, and it is becoming apparent now more than ever, is a coordinated global approach for developing an early detection and response system for disease prevention. And geospatial data and technologies are integral to that.

VITAL STATS

Tens of thousands dead

Death toll multiplying every day

Health systems crippled across countries

20% of the world under lockdown

International flight bans in place

Estimated global economic losses around $1 trillion

World economy officially in recession

“We don’t know when the next epidemic will strike, but I believe we can protect ourselves if we invest in better tools, a more effective early detection system, and a more robust global response system… There are also some interesting advances that leverage the power of computing to help predict where pandemics are likely to emerge and model different approaches to preventing or containing them.”

— Bill Gates, April 27, 2018

“We are in unchartered territory with #COVID19. We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures. Knowing and understanding an epidemic is the first step to defeating it.”

— Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), March 2, 2020

“We’ve been very clear in our messaging that to fight this we really need to find all of the cases, we need to know where the virus is so that we can tailor our approach to the areas that need it most and to do so we need to find the cases.”

— Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, Health Emergency Program, WHO, March 23, 2020

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