South Africa’s largest city is bracing for a wave of Covid-19 by drilling down on data

As the spread of the novel coronavirus in South Africa builds toward a projected peak in the coming weeks, the epicenter of the pandemic is shifting to Johannesburg from Cape Town, leading officials in the country’s largest city to redouble their analysis of data as part of efforts to pinpoint a public-health response.

Researchers  at the University of Witwatersrand have teamed with scientists at IBM, the University of Pretoria and officials in surrounding Gauteng province to build a dashboard designed to bridge the gap between the tracking of Covid-19 at the provincial level and the spread of the virus among people who are most at risk of infection.

The dashboard, which draws on demographic data that is stripped of personally identifying information, “goes down to the ward level, which is rather remarkable,” says Toby Kurien, a research engineer with IBM Research in Johannesburg who helped build the visualization and interface for the tracker.

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