Various health, governmental, business, and other organizations have created Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps to track the spread of COVID-19.
Epidemiologists use GIS to look at variables, including demographics, environmental conditions, and historical data from past pandemics to determine the outbreak origins of COVID-19, the spread pattern of the disease, and the density of infection.
This data helps government officials and health organizations to take preventive measures and implement control and surveillance tactics. GIS data from the COVID-19 maps enables health agencies and lawmakers to identify areas and populations at risk, in real-time, and to prepare for additional healthcare facilities and supplies needed to combat the virus.
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The GIS maps also enable critical communications among the various agencies, volunteer communities, and the public to efficiently disseminate vital information.
Officials can use the COVID-19 GIS maps to determine distinct vulnerabilities, including specific age groups and those with underlying health conditions. Using data from these at-risk groups, officials can appropriately direct emergency response and care where needed.
Patterns from spatial and temporal data revealed by daily, hourly, and weekly case occurrences over time enable officials to track and predict the future spread of the coronavirus.
GIS Maps Tracking COVID-19
The map pulls data updates from various government and health sources, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), China’s CDC, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and various national and state government departments and media reports.
Graduated circles show the spread of the virus across the globe. Locations with larger circles indicate a higher number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Geocoding, which provides geographical areas based on latitude and longitude, is used to map the virus.
While some countries show the number of confirmed, recovered, deaths, and active cases at a more detailed level, many show the data at the country level. The circles at the county or province levels are located in the middle of each country’s boundaries.
The University of Virginia COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard contains brightly colored tabs that show active, confirmed, and recovered cases and deaths. Orange indicates active, red confirmed, blue indicates deaths, and green shows recovered. The map data indicates cases by continent, country, and, depending on the country, by state or province. The U.S. map also shows county-level data. The map will soon show county-level map renderings in the States.
Users can filter data and group regions together. For example, if you have family in Spain, California, and Alaska, you can use the query to chart those regions. A time slider enables viewers to see historical data for the virus. Moving the slider to March 8, 2020, shows 99 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California. March 30, indicates 7,394 confirmed cases.
WHO’s GIS map shows the latest updated cases of COVID-19, including confirmed cases, deaths, and affected countries, areas, or territories. A sidebar specifies cases cumulatively or by date per area chosen. The larger circles on the map indicate confirmed cases of between 100,000 and 300,000 per country.
There are discrepancies in the data reported by WHO and other GIS maps, which may be because WHO’s reporting is conservative and is pulling data from fewer resources.
Microsoft created a GIS COVID-19 tracker using data from WHO, CDC, Wikipedia, ECDC, and 24/7Wall St. Its data reflects that of Johns Hopkins’ map. The map shows active, recovered, and fatal virus cases.
Also, the dashboard features a slideout sidebar with links to news reports and videos from around the world about COVID-19. It also contains links to resources. A trend graph compares the number of cases to fatalities over time. Data is shown per country, state, region, city, and other areas. Hovering a mouse over a region gives detailed information per affected area.