Health

High-resolution Hong Kong COVID-19 Hotspot Map launched

The new online Hong Kong COVID-19 Hotspot Map provides visualisations of the dynamic geographical distribution of COVID-19 cases within the city.

The interactive map was created by a research team from Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and The University of Hong Kong.

WHAT’S THE STORY ABOUT

This map shows territory-wide data about COVID-19 infections. The Interactive Map Dashboard, run by the Hong Kong government, provides real-time data.

It displays infection risks at different locations using a colour scheme that ranges from purple for those with the lowest risk to red for those with the highest. The map shows the changing risk levels at each location through dynamic colour patterns.

Users can also zoom in and out to view COVID-19 risk levels at more or less specific locations.

The color visualisation of COVID-19 risks levels is based upon the automatic, real time updating and computation infection case data using a spatial-temporal analysis tool called Kernel Density Visualisation.

The new computation methods allow the hotspot map to be enhanced to high-definition resolution (1375 x 960 pixels). It can process 1 million data points in 0.5 seconds of response time.

WHY IT MATERS

It is crucial to have accurate and timely information about the geographical distribution of COVID-19 patients in order to implement effective infection control measures as well as to allocate medical resources to combat the pandemic. The public can also benefit from this information in order to understand health risks.

This is why it is important to develop a system that can quickly update and process high resolution images. Many visualisation software programs do not support high-resolution KDV, even with millions of datasets. Furthermore, the current KDV computation methods cannot support dynamic image creation in real time.

The research team devised new methods of computing to improve the KDV’s visual creation. These novel methods produce a response time that is 100 times faster than the most advanced.

THE BIGGER TREND

The interactive COVID-19 map was launched at a time when Hong Kong has seen an increase in daily cases, surpassing 5,000 in the previous two weeks. In an effort to reopen its economy, the city recently relaxed its social distancing protocol.

The CovidInArea app, which visualises COVID-19 risk, was unveiled by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in August. The app uses open data from Department of Health to create a heatmap of locations where COVID-19 cases have been reported. The app is available on both Android and iOS. It provides real-time GPS support, as well as an automatic check for COVID-19 hotspots. Access to the mobile map is free and requires no registration. Personal information is not collected.

ON THE REPORT

“The new algorithms and solutions are able to support more KDV-based geospatial analyses tasks. The functionalities of the Hong Kong COVID-19 hotspot map were greatly improved by their use, making them a valuable tool for monitoring the risk of COVID-19 within the community. It can help health authorities and individual citizens to take informed and effective steps against the pandemic,” stated Xu Jianliang (research lead, professor, and head of the Department of Computer Science, HKBU).

The research team also plans to use its new methods for KDV in traffic hotspot identification, crowd control at tourist attractions, property prices visual analysis, and management of real-time weather resource management.

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