February 22, 2024

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Can COVID-19 Virus spread be accurately predicted in cities?

It has been highlighted over the past few months that in cities, outbreaks or clusters of COVID-19 positive individuals can grow very fast in heavily populated built up areas.

Tracking how people move around urban areas can pinpoint where disease might transmit fastest and farthest.

Places where there have been large gatherings of people have seen high infection rates such as a few notable Church gatherings, outbreaks from people socialising in nightclubs and restaurants as well as outbreaks in residential blocks.

Governments have the task of predicting where are the places that have the highest probability of spreading the disease and governments need to be equipped with the tools and technology to help them do this.

Big-data studies of human mobility need to be combined with epidemiological models. And the demographic profiles of people coming into contact at any particular location need to be included.

In many cities, the details of everyday interactions in cities are not documented well enough to model risk factors accurately, as experiences with COVID-19 show. Resorts, conferences, religious gatherings and workplaces have all experienced notable outbreaks.

Groups living in close proximity are a very high risk risk. Almost 93% of Singapore’s COVID-19 cases in the first 48 days occurred in dormitories for migrant workers.

Each block houses hundreds or thousands of workers. Cases there increased rapidly in a very short space of time to more than 40,000, or more than 12% of that population, compared with fewer than 2,600 infections elsewhere in the city-state of 5.3 million people.

Mapping the Spread of COVID-19

A model of disease spread can be built and refined as data and knowledge improve on human flows on three levels. City-wide – a map which highlights the main flows of people throughout the city. Then by busiest locations and busiest timings should then be mapped and then thirdly record demographics and types of human interactions.

By combining all these insights, governments will be better able to anticipate superspreading locations and target precautionary measures, such as delaying reopening businesses, quarantining arrivals, tightening crowd control and intensifying cleaning and disinfection in particular places.

How Government can tap into pre-existing resources

All sources of data on human mobility need to be tapped. For example, ‘smart’ cities such as Singapore have networks of cameras on lamp posts to track traffic flows. These could be reconfigured to track the density and mixing of people anonymously.

Data from geolocation and contact-tracing apps can map where people go, who they interact with and for what length of time.

Funding agencies can help fund studies of human movement and interactions in key superspreading locations such as transport hubs.

Urban analysts and modellers need to study and document the types of face-to-face interactions, networks and crowd mixing.

Governments should use these data and models to target their public-health strategies. More effective targeting of measures will help to avoid ‘virus fatigue’ among the public and help education and the economy by allowing places to minimize the risks of some kinds of reopening.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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