A new free web-based tool lets you track coronavirus contagion in real-time
virustrack.live is an open-source resource that lets anyone compare and visualize the spread of COVID-19 across different geographies. The dashboard dynamically cross-references reputable data from repositories including Johns Hopkins University Center for Science Systems and Engineering, BNO News, World Health Organization COVID-2019 Situation Reports, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US hospital data from Community Benefit Insight and US county data aggregators. All these sources get checked by the platform every five minutes, so what you get is the most up-to-date resource for tracking the COVID-19 pandemic on the web today.
virustrack.live lets you instantly compare and visualize data across regions, states, and countries, empowering responders to flatten the curve and make more informed choices Click To Tweet
The COVIDvu Virus Tracking Team was founded by open source advocate and angel investor Eugene Ciurana, Mystic Coders software entrepreneur Andrew Lombardi, and Farad.ai chief scientist Dr. Juvid Aryaman. VirusTrack.live was built in less than three weeks with volunteer contributions from scientists and engineers worldwide.
“We developed VirusTrack.live because existing maps and dashboards are visually striking but the information they present is qualitative, not quantitative .They don’t display trends or let you compare multiple locations side-by-side in real-time,” explains Ciurana, who came up with the idea for VirusTrack while self-isolating with his family in San Francisco. “VirusTrack allows users to select and compare states, countries, US regions, or continental regions within the same context. The unprecedented severity of this pandemic means information is in constant flux, we wanted this user-friendly decision support system to be accessible to everyone.”
The project is entirely non-commercial, non-advertising, and open-source, and the team is keen to share the resource with global authorities, media outlets, and individuals in order to empower them to make better real-time decisions informed by accurate data.
“Our focus was on data quality and on presenting current, actionable information with a minimum of clutter, ” “Maps look cool, but the information they present is qualitative, not quantitative. The charts from virustracker.live are designed for side-by-side comparison and use the most current data available.”
“We aren’t selling anything or even asking for donations. Anybody can use the tool in any way they like,” Ciurana says, adding that all the virustracker.live website content is freely available for re-publication under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence, which means anyone, anywhere can use the website output for any purpose as long as they credit the COVIDvu Open Source Virus Tracking Team.
This is a work-in-progress and Ciurana hopes to attract a community of scientists and developers to add further features that will make virustrack.live more relevant and useful.
This is a key aspect of the platform, as it can serve as a crowdsourcing action hub for Data Scientists and Engineers keen to contribute towards efforts in mitigating this crisis, building their own tools and running their own experiments against the CSSE datasets. The team invites contributions from the general public, NGOs and government officials, health scientists, and technologists looking for ways to help in this crisis.
“Our focus is on data quality and on presenting current and actionable information with a minimum of clutter,” explains Andrew Lombardi, project co-founder. The charts from VirusTrack.live are designed for easy interpretation.”
The intention is that as more data is collected in the coming days, this accurate, readily available and easily comparable data will empower responders, policymakers, media, and citizens to make agile and better-informed decisions to tackle the challenges ahead.
Dr. Juvid Aryaman, chief scientist at London-based Farad.ai and project co-founder, continued. “We saw this opportunity to distil accurate information from the trove of noisy and contradictory data sources out there. We aim to keep the public informed and to improve planning. In the next few days VirusTrack.live will generate high-confidence predictions of how the pandemic will evolve,” he says.
The VirusTrack.live team is keen to share the resource with global authorities, media outlets, and individuals in order to encourage them to make better decisions, informed by accurate data Click To Tweet
“We aren’t selling anything or even asking for donations. Anybody can use the tool in any way they like,” Ciurana says, adding that all website content is freely available for re-publication under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
We are in uncharted territory with this pandemic, but as COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, we are also collecting a wealth of data that can be leveraged to give us insights into which strategies work Click To Tweet
By studying patterns and comparing the contagion curves from various geographies, it could be possible to more accurately forecast what comes next. Informed, data-driven timely action powered by collaboration might just be humanity’s best hope.
VirusTrack.live welcomes information about data sources, suggestions, and general feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice Bonasio is a XR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.