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Geospatialist Role in Supporting Fight Against COVID-19

By April 11, 2020No Comments

A new coronavirus called COVID-19 topped news headlines in early 2020 when it broke out in Wuhan, China. The outbreak quickly became an international concern, and on Jan. 30, 2020 it was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). In Malaysia as of April 5, 2020 a total of 3662 cases and 61 deaths were recorded.

As public health institutions across the world mobilized to better understand this novel disease, Geospatial technology emerged as a key player in tracking and visualizing disease pattern movement and activity. To stay up to date on this health crisis, WHO launched their own Geographic Information Sytem (GIS) dashboard in order to keep publics all around the world updated regarding COVID-19 current status. One of example is the World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus (COVID-19) information portal that can be access at https://who.sprinklr.com.

Besides, a lot of geovisualization tools was developed by private company and available for public use in order to spread the spatial information about COVID-19 such as Esri’s ArsGIS Hub, Geospark’s Dashboard, Maxar’s Human Landscape Monitoring, CARTO Visualization Software, Aspectum Monitoring Tools, Hexagon Dashboard and Smart App, SafeGraph Public Dashboard and etc. In addition, in local or at district level, geospatial advanced tools were used such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone technology in providing the actual base map with real data streaming as well as monitoring to support government and local authority effort in combating COVID 19.

Epidemiology is the study of diseases and their determinants. Space and time are two major components of the field. Space and time are also key components of geography, making the two scientific fields an ideal match. GIS is the technology regularly employed by scientists to make maps and perform spatial analysis. Both cartography and spatial analysis have seen many technological advances in the past two decades. With the obvious overlap between geography and epidemiology, GIS has become an integral tool to assist with disease surveillance, perform research, and explore new associations between exposures and health outcomes.

Lets help our nation in fighting this COVID-19 pandemic.

Written by:
Assoc Prof Sr Mohd Firdaus Bin Md Alip
Geomatika University College

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