New data visualisation tool to help track COVID-19

Screen shot the COVID19 interactive dashboard
30 April 2020

You probably have lots of questions about the state of COVID-19 in Australia. But data can be difficult to interpret, may not be available in real-time, and sometimes come from unofficial sources.  

Associate Professor Colleen Lau and team have been awarded funding from NHMRC to address this problem. Together they will develop a real-time information and visualisation dashboard that maps the spread of COVID-19 in Australia over space and time. 

“This project will make data come alive. It isn’t about generating new data, rather making it more useful, user friendly, and easy to interpret,” says Lau. 

“People are interested in what is going on around them, and having good information easily available helps minimise misinformation.” 

The focus of the project isn’t just on public information. There will be several platforms aimed at different users such as public health practitioners, clinicians, decision makers, and high-risk groups. 

“Clinicians, for example, might have access to additional data not available to the public such as clinical information like signs and symptoms, and causes of deaths in different groups of people” .” 

The project aims for real-time information by linking data from multiple sources such as health departments, laboratories, case investigations, and other sources online. The system will also include spatial data so that we can more quickly and easily identify any hotspots of transmission. This will aid national response to COVID-19 by streamlining data collection and analyses across all states and territories.    

“This system will track COVID-19 in a nation-wide database, and will be ready to be deployed on future outbreaks and other public health emergencies.” 

*** Funding was awarded by NHMRC through the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) Centre of Research Excellence. The project: “CRISPER: COVID-19 Real-time Information System for Preparedness and Epidemic Response” will be led by A/Prof Colleen Lau from the Department of Global Health at the ANU Research School of Population Health. Collaborators will include Paul Konings and Michael Hewett from the GRAPHC team at RSPH, other researchers from ANU, APPRISE Partners, Menzies School of Health Research, and Health Departments. ***