Days after John Hopkins University created the world’s first publicly-accessible novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) tracking dashboard, a second site named CoronaTracker has emerged from Malaysia, offering live global updates, charts, and maps of the virus’ spread, with plans for an app in the works.
Created by Malaysian data scientist Lau Cher Han, the site consolidates information about the virus from news articles worldwide and credible sources like the World Health Organisation, the United States’ (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the health ministries of Singapore and Australia.
Lau said in a Facebook Live video on Monday (Jan 27) that the data the site uses is first verified by a team of worldwide volunteers from Malaysia, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and the US.
We have launched CoronaTracker, a one stop platform for keeping track of data and news development of 2019-nCov (Wuhan virus).Join me live tonight to learn:1) The features of CoronaTracker2) How you can contribute to the project3) How you can access and use the data
Posted by Dr. Lau Cher Han on Monday, 27 January 2020
He added that among the pool of over 700 volunteers are medical experts who verify news reports, user interface designers who check information architecture, and data scientists who clean the data and analyse it.
Charts and graphs are updated daily, according to the site.
Lau told the New Straits Times that viewing the John Hopkins University dashboard made him realise it was “very hard to gather data for in-depth analysis,” such as monitoring the growth and spread of the virus.
He realised that the data was scattered across media reports in various countries, and decided to use the site to make consolidated information more accessible to the global public.
Among the charts currently available on the site is a graph of the Wuhan virus outbreak trend between Jan 24 and Jan 30.
Another graph compares the statistics of the Wuhan coronavirus with those from the 2003 Sars epidemic, showing how rapidly the Wuhan virus had spread, when compared with Sars.
CoronaTracker also has a map and chart tracking the number of confirmed virus cases in every country – with China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau being the worst hit as of Wednesday (Jan 29).
Unsurprisingly, the top 10 worst-affected regions were all Chinese provinces close to Wuhan city.
In a post on Sunday (Jan 26), Lau said that making the site into a mobile app was one of his top priorities, with plans to have it send users real-time notifications.
The project has since garnered positive comments from Facebook users. Some also left offers of help on Lau’s posts, identifying themselves as molecular biology graduates, programmers, and data analysts, among others.
“I volunteer my services all the way from Botswana,” wrote a user named Morena Alpheus Mogwe, while another named Bryan Lee said he was “interested to join to contribute to the Wuhan issue.”