A Valuable Tool to Map COVID-19 in Venezuela

Maps have been invaluable to understanding COVID-19, particularly in Venezuela, where reliable information is hard to come by.

Photo: Esriven, retrieved.

As important as knowing the number of people infected at any time, is knowing where those cases are located. That’s why the Venezuelan COVID-19 dashboard, developed by geographic information software (GIS) supplier Esri, is so important. The platform is as close as you’ll get to a real-time situation room of the national COVID-19 epidemic and is part of the company’s Disaster Response Program, an international project meant to deliver GIS products that help communities tackle coronavirus outbreaks. Esri integrates the limited epidemiological data disclosed every day by Venezuelan authorities (including confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries) with an interactive map that shows the location of each case within the country. They also include basic demographics like poverty estimates, which nonetheless come from the 2011 national census and are now outdated.

Esri’s software, known as ArcGIS, has also been used to develop different dashboards around the world, of which the most important is probably that of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which keeps track of all cases around the world, giving a clear, constantly updated image of the pandemic’s evolution.

Esri integrates the limited epidemiological data disclosed every day by Venezuelan authorities (including confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries) with an interactive map.

The science behind the project can be found in this paper published in Lancet, one of the most important medical journals in the world. The data collected, including the WHO situation reports, is also available via GitHub for researchers and anyone interested.

It’s important to note that all these maps are web-based, they require no downloads and can be seen directly in any browser. Any link that asks the user to download or run any kind of software should be avoided, since a similar-looking malware site has been recently developed to steal personal information from users.

These platforms are, by far, the best way to keep a track of the outbreak in Venezuela and elsewhere.They’re also the most recent example of GIS technologies applied to the Venezuelan crisis; Monitor Ciudad, for example, uses Esri’s platform to monitor access to water in different cities of the country.

So stop reading this and go take a look at those maps.

Juan Carlos Gabaldón

Medical doctor from Merida, currently studying Medical Parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine