Extremely pleased to be a part of the domain, that is helping the world in battling against the very well known curse of the millennium COVID-19. At this time of the global pandemic when medical science endeavoring to discover reliable solution to fight against SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19); spatial science is playing proactive role in empowering the decision-makers to understand the game of novel corona virus from neighborhood to continental scale.
- History behind medical geographical mapping
Since 5th century BCE geography is helping the society to fight against the deadliest disease of the world, the story begins with the acknowledgement of Hippocrates who significantly observed the relationship between health and environment. Utilization of incredible asset of geographical mapping empowered the society when German physician Leonhard Ludwig Finke prepared first disease map in 1792, and identified incidence and spread of infectious diseases within exclusive spatial environmental condition. Notable contribution of medical geographical mapping, and its implications evolved from the streets of England during English Cholera epidemic of 1830s. Dr. Robert Baker (1831), Dr. Thomas Shapter (1848), German geographer Augustus Petermann (1952) and Dr. John Snow created series of cholera map demonstrating the incidence and deaths related to cholera, nearby natural circumstances contributing the development, and spread of pandemic and vulnerable population exposed to the disease. Instead of limiting technology, these early maps were extremely helpful for decision-makers.
- Geo-informatics fighting against COVID-19 – Global scenario
After centuries, today geographical science well-equipped with modern technology and advanced tool of geo-informatics is significantly more dynamic and helping the world in distinguishing the game of the pandemic of 21st century. Geographical institutions and GIS firms are striving to provide near-real times updates on the spread coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Track on its spreading way assisting with understanding it dynamicity, which is essentially critical to receive preventive measures to limit further episode of the deadliest COVID-19. Track on its spreading way assisting with understanding it dynamicity, which is essentially critical to receive preventive measures to limit further episode of the deadliest COVID-19.
World Health Organization displays the spread of COVID – 19 worldwide with detailed tracking data for each nation and territory. COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard produced by University of Virginia and John Hopkins University is astoundingly following the spread of Covid-19 utilizing multiple sources of information. By scrolling over the tab, viewers may get fabulous idea about worldwide cumulative confirmed cases, active cases, incidence rate, case fatality ratio, testing rate and hospitalization rate. Recognizing the power of mapping tool, Department of Geography, University of Washington has created an interactive map of the coronavirus. A single click on the countries displays the number of cases, recoveries, deaths, and trends over time on both linear and logarithmic scales. University of Georgia effectively displays the spread of the pandemic worldwide from its epicenter at Wuhan, China. Indeed, most nations have their own COVID-19 dashboards, sharing data publicly at various scales. ESRI, a leading GIS resource supplier is playing significant role in empowering the nations of Asia – Pacific, Americas, Europe, Middle-East and Africa in mapping the novel corona virus pandemic. On release of Coronavirus Response Solution exclusively for the community benefit at neighborhood scale, ESRI believes that GIS is not only for mapping the spread of pandemic, yet it very well may be successfully used as the answer for the most challenging questions pertaining to vulnerability and exposure of population to novel corona virus. Extremely appreciative steps were taken by South Korea, that produced superior quality COVID – 19 maps. Amalgamation of four technologies, i.e. track on card-less transactions by the patients, their phone locations, CCTV surveillances on the movements of patients along with geographical information system enabled the trackers to identify exact or near exact movement of virus, and it becomes simpler to uncover where, when and from whom new patients was or may infected.
- Geo-technology at neighbourhood scale
At national level, many Indian states are conveying geographical technology as a significant tool during this tough time. Government of Gujarat launched mobile-based GIS application to track the movement of those advised to be home-quarantined. Telangana government is actively using geo-location technology to track the movements of suspects. State of Kerala deployed GIS technique to display route charting of positive cases on live-geo maps. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has published the map on its website indicating COVID-19 influenced regions. The aim is to spread awareness among the nearby community who needs to take more precautions. Apart from the interactive maps showing the spread of the disease, Google attempted to prepare the COVID-19 Community Mobility Report, to offer an approximate understanding of the community responses on social distancing guidance related to Covid19. Report is based on the sample data of location history from the users who have opted-in for their Google Account.
- Few must visit surveillance sites tracking COVID -19
I will suggest my readers to visit the following sites and see how geographical techniques is excellently playing crucial role in fights against global pandemic COVID -19.
John Hopkins University
University of Washington
University of Georgia
World Health Organization
University of Virginia
National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India
United States of America
ESRI COVID-19: Map, resources and insights
Visit the site, track the trend, see what Geography is doing, and understand how it empowers.
- Geography empowers – future ahead
Overcoming all myths where domain of Geography was considered to be limited in identifying the capitals, rivers or forests on map, today the subject is playing crucial role in making decisions. Tracking COVID-19 or identifying population vulnerability and exposure to the deadliest corona virus is one among thousands of significant role played by the Geographical science today. Whether it is smart urban planning, disaster management, environment protection, or population-resource distribution, Geography empowers everyone, everywhere.
COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard, University of Virginia (Accessed on April 15, 2020)
COVID-19 Dashboard, John Hopkins University (Accessed on April 15, 2020)
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