“Rather than forcing people to sift through numbers in tables, the map and dashboard immediately informs the community where new cases are cropping up in relation to their homes and their families and friends,” explains Jamie.
“NSW Health was really proactive in openly sharing granular postcode-level case data, but the average person doesn’t have the skills or time to make sense of it.
“We received emails from people who would wake up and check it every morning before they went to drop their kids at school or went to the shops.
“Having access to a visual map of key data not only provided important information but also gave people peace of mind.”
The research project also mapped COVID-19 case data against socioeconomic indexes across Sydney’s local government areas, to help authorities understand the impact of geographic and demographic factors on outbreaks.
“We wanted to see how higher or lower socio-economic areas would be affected,” says Jamie.
“From a public health perspective, agencies could use that information to look at prioritisation of resources.
Jamie believes this same technology could be used to manage Australia’s lagging vaccination program and assist with understanding vaccine availability and priority target groups not being reached.
“Going beyond just the first level of showing how many people have been vaccinated, a map-based dashboard could be used as a communicative tool to demonstrate availability across locations,” says Jamie.
“For the priority groups, there’s also accessibility issues. By mapping demographics and identifying patterns of low vaccination rates, decision-makers could look to improve accessibility or develop geographically targeted communications.
“With Sydney currently experiencing another outbreak, sharing data in this way could also help focus vaccine efforts where they’re needed most.”
Esri Australia’s National Business Manager, Lisa Dykes believes Jamie’s dashboard will provide enduring value for those living in NSW as well as across Australia.
“Crises don’t stop at city or state borders and in order to make the right decisions, government and community leaders need to see the full picture,” notes Ms Dykes.
“Jamie’s project exemplifies the spirit of the Esri Young Scholar Award, which encourages future leaders to deliver practical, data-driven solutions using spatial technology.
“As we look ahead, Jamie’s work will stand as a benchmark for the health sector and any agency looking to establish effective, far-reaching communication tools that make critical information easily accessible.”