The Real Impact of Data on COVID-19

As we all know, the world has been going through a pandemic like no other. A pandemic the size and scale of Covid-19 naturally comes with a whole host of changes and unforeseen challenges that we have needed to adapt to and find solutions for at a faster rate than ever before.

In times like this, data is the best tool in our arsenal – and it is one that generations before weren’t privy to. For all intents and purposes, data has been telling the story of this pandemic, keeping us informed of details such as the number of cases and the quantity of hospital equipment as well as informing government responses. In other words, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen data become an even more important fixture in people’s lives. 

Data Is The New Gold:

Machine learning, cloud computing, AI – these are just some of the big ways in which data is being utilized by businesses to carve out a strong position for themselves in the market. Even on a more general level, data is being mined, consumed and exchanged with every single website and app visit we make – all in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the world we live in. In other words, data is everywhere. 

In the context of a worldwide pandemic, it’s not hard to see how data has improved our knowledge and insights to help us to respond to our situation. Covid-19 forced almost every element of our lives to change – for the good and for the bad – but a mainstay of all of this has been the constant barrage of information we’ve been able to access on a daily basis.

In healthcare in particular, data has been an important component of our response to the outbreak. An increase in areas like electronic medical records has helped healthcare providers with tracking and tracing the spread of the virus. Not only this, the field of Big Data has been a big asset in terms of research, with scientists leveraging it to track and contain the virus with real-time forecasts. In China, for instance, the use of things such as thermal scanners and surveillance cameras provided data the government could use to identify potentially infected citizens and trace their movements. 

Beyond healthcare, the general public have also benefited from the use and accessibility of data throughout the pandemic, particularly in the form of apps. Tracking and tracing apps have been one of the biggest players during this pandemic. Apps can also utilize real-time data to provide up-to-date information to the public as well as to Governments and healthcare bodies. Apps such as PromptCloud’s Covid-19 Tracker is an example of this. In this case, the app is based on real-time data mined from various websites and used to provide updated figures whilst forecasting the future disruptions that could be caused by the virus. 

Data is Everywhere, All the Time:

Looking at the examples above, one of the biggest similarities we can draw is not in the use of the data or the function of the apps, but in the accessibility. Ultimately, one of the most prominent differences between the Covid-19 pandemic and previous outbreaks has been the ability to access, and consequently use, data to combat the virus. Apps, websites, medical records, GPS, national online databases and more – these can all be accessed and used to provide relevant data that is helping to combat the spread of the virus. 

Given this, it’s not a stretch to say that improved accessibility has been the biggest impact of data on Covid-19. This is most evident when looking into aforementioned tracking and tracing apps. During this pandemic most transmissions occur when someone is asymptomatic, which means being fast and efficient in tracing back an infected person’s movements and contacting all of those who may have been infected is one of the most crucial tasks – and apps are helping us do just that. 

Not only this, but easy access to data means an even more comprehensive picture of the virus and the pandemic can be formed, helping to predict outcomes and shape responses. Analytics dashboards like the World Health Organization’s is pulling data from across the globe to show some of the most up-to-date Coronavirus statistics. With a data set like this, models can then be created and predictions can be made as to the spread, any spikes in cases or any new hotspots. 

Conclusion:

Data has been the world’s biggest asset during this time. Although the size, spread and severity of the pandemic was unforeseen, with an unprecedented access to global data, we find ourselves in a strong position to combat it. 

Overall, data has helped the world realize the severity as well as the complexity of the Covid-19 pandemic, and by doing so, it has helped all of us to formulate a response. From tracing the spread, to predicting outcomes, to backing up theories and research in the search for a vaccine, data has had a profound impact on Covid-19.