Government sets up COVID-19 research data platform

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A team of experts are working on creating a range of data warehouses, including the current geographic spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) current cases, health vulnerabilities and location of health and other facilities, among other things.

This work is being done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Health.

Globally there are 512 701 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 23 495 confirmed deaths and there’s 202 countries that are affected by the Coronavirus.

“Through the Department of Science and Innovation…and the CSIR we have successfully commissioned and finalised the physical set-up of a core situational awareness platform.

“Currently, the core of the platform is health data but over time, we intend to integrate the system with other types of data to provide a more robust platform that can provide holistic decision support to the National Command Centre,” Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande said at a media briefing in Pretoria, on Saturday.

He said initial visualisations have been completed and these will be continuously enhanced and improved.

“We thank the team which worked on this system for the efforts and commitments. Protocols and arrangements are also being facilitated by the Department of Science and Innovation to enable the situational awareness platform to draw in information from other sources,” the Minister said.

This includes the results of the modelling efforts of various modelling teams on a regular basis.

“Initial work, led by a team at the University of Pretoria, have also started mobilising continent-wide networks to build databases on COVID-19 cases. Of particular strategic importance for the South African response effort is the situation in our neighbouring countries.

“Over the next few days, protocols and improved management arrangements for the facility will be finalised to protect the health and wellness of the core team,” the Minister said.

The team has also identified opportunities for accessing key data sets held by the private sector for the explicit purpose of strengthening the situational capacity capabilities.

“The situational awareness platform is flexible and dynamic and will be improved and customised based on the prevailing decision support requirements of the National Command Centre,” Nzimande said.

The Human Science Research Council (HSRC) is currently conducting an online survey to better understand current behaviours and patterns.

“As at 27 March, about 2 400 people have responded to the survey. The sample size has increased but a statistician has been commissioned to assess the quality of the responses and data after which analysis can be done. This will happen over the next two days,” the Minister said.

Government will keep the public informed on the outcome of the results of this survey. –

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