Can GIS help the authorities and the businesses to combat the disruptions of COVID-19? GIS might be an invaluable tool to track the spread of COVID-19 and take preventive measures to minimize its damage.
COVID-19 spreads at an alarming rate. The progression of the pandemic is difficult to track because of its fast and asymptomatic transmission. The need of the hour is accurate data of the affected geographies and its rate of spread. Spatial data can help authorities to map the affected areas and also monitor the pattern of spread to increase the surveillance and preventive measures.
GIS combines location intelligence from multiple sources and creates insightful maps to detect patterns and trends of the pandemic. With the world lifting the lockdowns and reopening the economies, the utility of GIS is increasing to ensure public safety, continuity of operations, and support the reopening.
Geographic information systems to battle COVID-19
GIS maps can support the public authorities to mitigate the losses due to COVID-19 and reduce its spread. It also helps businesses to maintain continuity of operations, ensure the safety of the stakeholders, and minimize supply chain disruptions. GIS maps provide better visualization and facilitate quick response to any sudden emergencies. Here is how spatial data and maps can be used in the fight against COVID-19.
- Contact tracing and surveillance – Spatial data gives an accurate depiction of the movement of people. Authorities can geo-fence the quarantined areas and monitor the movement of people in these places. Using GIS maps, they can also monitor the people in home quarantine and implement alerts when an individual breaks the quarantine or steps out of the geofence. This higher surveillance is effective in minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
- Monitor the high-risk population – Many authorities require high-risk populations such as the elderly and kids to undergo reverse quarantine. Location data can monitor the movement of these categories and bring increased surveillance if the spread of COVID-19 gets out of control.
- Track the hotspots – With authorities easing the restrictions, the number of hotspots is rising rapidly. GIS can support the tracking of these hotspots and also increase the surveillance of the neighboring areas to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t spill over to the nearby localities.
- Efficient disbursement of medical requirements – The demand for face masks and sanitizers is shooting up and authorities have to make these easily available to the population. Spatial data allows us to identify areas where there is a higher demand for medical supplies and make them available in the safest route. GIS monitor also aids the authorities to track hospitals and other health care centers. It can provide data to anticipate the need for supplies like hospital beds, ventilators, PPEs, and medicines and make them available without delay.
- Maintain business continuity – GIS is highly useful for businesses to maintain continuity in operations during the reopening. Organizations can call back only the essential workforce and allow the remaining employees to continue remote work. GIS tracking can help to allocate resources at the optimal locations and prevent supply chain disruptions while also ensuring compliance with the regulatory requirements. GIS maps allow businesses to identify safe routes for employees to travel. Businesses can also identify the best routes for logistics so that goods and raw materials move without delay.
- Safety of employees – Location intelligence helps to create safety plans for the facilities. They can monitor the sanitization measures, social distancing, and also decide on the number of employees that can be safely accommodated in the facility. In case of any infections in a facility, GIS maps help to identify alternate facilities for continuing the operations.
To sum it up
GIS is proving to be highly useful in fighting COVID-19 and supporting the reopening of economies. It can play a significant role in minimizing the spread of the pandemic to increasing surveillance in the affected areas.