Drawing from lessons learned during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome pandemic, public health agencies have recognized the importance of sharing data in real time and easy-to-interpret formats during an outbreak. Decision makers need accurate, real-time data to make evidence-based decisions, and the public needs to be aware of the scale of disease transmission. Frequent reporting can put an unnecessary burden on public health agencies; thus, an automatically updating dashboard is a great solution to fill data needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a proliferation of online platforms and dashboards. We've identified a few below and provided a brief description of their relative advantages.
- John Hopkins University’s (JHU) dashboard provides almost real-time reporting of data that was established in early January.
- Nextstrain uses data visualizations to aid our understanding of transmission and spread patterns over time.
- Worldometer has a platform making data available and easily accessible for analysis in Excel.
Despite these capabilities, as users of these platforms at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), we identified two main gaps, namely that: (1) the dashboards, in isolation, are fit for purpose and do not allow for customization or exploration and (2) dashboards are limited to a single aspect of the pandemic (e.g., epidemiology, an organization’s footprint, or country-wide responses). These limitations hamper ADB program officers, researchers and decision-makers, who require flexible, comprehensive and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
We sought to fill these gaps and create an all-in-one resource for users to understand the impact of COVID-19 by leveraging technology from the private sector. Founded in 2014, the Global Health Security Agenda’s Private Sector Roundtable (PSRT) mobilizes industry leaders to help countries prevent, detect and respond to health-related crises and strengthen systems for health security. Qlik – a company which provides an end-to-end, real-time data integration and analytics cloud platform to close the gaps between data, insights and action – and Qlik.org, the company’s corporate responsibility arm, have been previously supporting pandemic preparedness through the PSRT by developing applications to visualize and monitor progress on health security capacities. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ADB and Qlik began collaborating on a solution to address the lack of a comprehensive COVID-19 data dashboard.
By combining multiple resources and organizations’ data sets, ADB and Qlik have partnered to create a one-stop shop application for users to explore the impact of COVID-19 in terms of country pandemic preparedness and response capacities, epidemiology, government responses and economic losses. In detail, the platform contains information on:
- Pandemic preparedness and response: The World Health Organization (WHO) endorses the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), a voluntary, collaborative, multisectoral process to assess country capacities to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to public health issues. The JEE helps countries identify the most critical gaps within their human and animal health systems in order to prioritize opportunities for enhanced preparedness and response. Data from JEE reports is available in the dashboard.
- Epidemiology: JHU’s dashboard aggregates case reports and deaths reported to WHO from countries across the globe. The dashboard updates daily using information from JHU’s github website and adds the functionality of customizable selection over geographic areas.
- Government Responses: ACAPS is a non-government organization that monitors human rights violations and has been tracking government measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Their data is visualized by date and searchable by country in the dashboard.
- Economic impacts: Economic losses from ADB models are included in the dashboard, with more updates being incorporated.
- Comparison: The previously mentioned information can easily be compared across various countries or groups of countries using the comparison tab.
Together, this platform is powerful enough to answer a range of questions. For project preparation, it can be used to identify country needs based on case count and projected economic loss, helping organizations prioritize areas for investment or response based on JEE scores or pandemic stage. Researchers can also identify the impact of various government measures on the spread of disease within a country.
“Working with ADB on developing this app has enabled Qlik to deploy the best of our capabilities to help combat one of the most dangerous, ongoing global threats,” said Julie Kae, Executive Director of Qlik.org. “We can only overcome this challenge if we have data steering us toward effective, targeted solutions.”
The platform will continue to be updated based on feedback and availability of data to make it as useful as possible. Potential additions include incorporating ADB COVID-19 response project information, integrating subnational data where available, and expanding the tool to provide information on vaccine development and deployment.
In a climate where conflicting, incomplete, or erroneous information are vying for space within our public and health policy discourses, there is a need for a single source of truth. Data needs to be accessible to inform COVID-19 containment and recovery policy. Making relevant data available in real time is the first important step toward driving the data-driven decision making which is at the center of this conversation. The more that this data can be considered, analyzed and translated into action, the better our response to COVID-19 can be and more knowledgeable our conversation about our response can be.
Please take a look at our COVID-19 app, developed jointly with Qlik, by checking out this link