The popular saying “ the world is a global village” probably never had meaning to a lot of people until recently. The outbreak of the novel 2019 Coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) has proved this statement over and over again. The diseases said “to have originated from China”, the province of Wuhan in the year 2019, but it has recently grown into a global pandemic. The “global village” nature of the world helped spread the disease, as many individuals, oblivious of their positive status of the Coronavirus moved through the nations of the world, causing it to become a world problem. Currently, the number of infections and deaths is still on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic seriously threatens human health, commerce and production, social activities, and technological development. In simple terms, it has disrupted the status quo of the world.
This pandemic, as been largely moved into continents from its origin in Asia, through air travel, unlike the Spanish flu that was mainly through sea travel. That said, there is a need for a system that is capable of organizing operations while individuals stay indoors. A system that would effectively substitute field human resources. This brought about the use of Geographical information systems(GIS) in the fight against COVID-19. GIS is a computer-based system that enables the storage, analysis, query, and retrieval of spatial data.
Geographical Information systems(GIS) have played and still has a significant role to play in the fight against this pandemic. Through geographical information systems and related geospatial techniques, there have been real-time visualization and tracking of this pandemic in various locations, spatial monitoring of confirmed cases, prediction of transmission, and geospatial contact tracing. The capacity of GIS to query spatial information has given it the edge to be primarily used in the management and effective allocation of relief materials in countries that are currently undergoing a total lockdown. Notably, the challenge of this pandemic has been the struggle to develop effective strategies that would substitute the traditional methods of dealings in various communities and societies. More so, third world countries, especially in Africa, utilize the conventional approach in almost all sectors; therefore, this pandemic has dealt a big blow to the overall operations of these countries. The powers of GIS can, however, be handy in this scenario. The significant ways GIS can help countries in Africa in this pandemic include:
- Tracking of migration pattern in and out of hotspots cities and states
- Reliable spatial information support for testing
- Proximity analysis for siting isolation centers
- Mapping of quadrants for relief materials distribution
Furthermore, geographical information systems require big data which could be a challenge in these countries due to database problems. However, statistical and demographic data can be spatially referenced to replace real-time remotely sensed data. Also, some private companies like Telcos in these countries have access to private real-time data of individuals that could be used in this process. With GIS, the USA, the UK, and other first world countries are currently working strategically to flatten the curve of the number of infected cases.
Lastly, one thing is evident; the world would learn a lot from this pandemic; especially Africa. The pressure to go digital on all platforms has just doubled, and in Africa, the need for real-time data from satellites and other airborne systems has mainly been exposed. But the consolation is, through GIS, the world is poised for victory over this global pandemic that has affected over a million people worldwide.