KUALA LUMPUR, 1 April 2020 – The outbreak of the Coronavirus (2019-nCov), or COVID-19 which first hit China at the end of 2019 has resulted in what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called a pandemic since 11 March. Fast spreading the world over, the number of infections and deaths as a result of it, have been on the increase. Despite this grave situation, there is still hope through the help of geospatial technology.
Leveraging on its location intelligence platform and pool of geospatial experts, Esri Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. launched a COVID-19 GIS hub which features maps and practical applications from authoritative sources that monitors the virus outbreak both globally and locally in real-time.
The initiative comes as part of Esri’s larger Global Disaster Response program that support organisations such as WHO, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and other similar authorities who monitor the spread of the virus and play a role in the preventive, surveillance and critical control measures.
“Maps have been instrumental in determining the mysteries behind the cause and spread of diseases such as cholera, yellow fever and Ebola – COVID-19 is no different,” said C.S. Tan, Chief Executive Officer of Esri Malaysia said.
“During this time, the availability of authoritative data and information to all parties is crucial in responding to a pandemic. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to addressing such a large-scale emergency,” he said.
Mr Tan explained that the COVID-19 GIS hub works as public health information tool that collates information from the relevant government agencies and visualises it on a dynamic web application.
Currently, the GIS Hub maps confirmed and active cases, deaths and recoveries to identify where COVID-19 infections have been recorded.
It also provides information on the spread of infections over time and where authorities can target interventions through time-enabled maps. The GIS hub can also map vulnerable populations. Since the virus impacts the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, mapping demographics through age, region social vulnerability and other facts can help too
“Through this effort, we’re hoping it will provide communities and local authorities with a clearer picture of the situation as it unfolds. Most importantly, it will support efforts to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news that is aggravating this public health crisis,” Mr Tan said.
Mr Tan also highlighted the efforts of Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu’s approach to pro-actively engage their constituents with the State’s very own COVID-19 Hub.
“Through these efforts, we can empower citizens to make well-informed decisions on how they can keep themselves safe and prevent local transmission of the virus,” he said.
As part of the company’s corporate citizenship, Mr Tan said Esri Malaysia has a dedicated team of geospatial experts on standby to pro-actively update information on the GIS Hub.