Timely, Trusted, Localized Public Data about COVID-19
By John Buscemi
IBM is making it easier for people around the world to stay up to date on COVID-19 in their vicinity, as demand for the latest news and statistics surges.
The company has rolled out two sources of COVID-19 information: an Incidents Map on IBM’s The Weather Channel app and weather.com, and an interactive dashboard on weather.com for deeper analysis. Both run on the IBM Cloud and are available free of charge.
The IBM data tools, driven by IBM Watson and built on IBM Cognos Analytics, are designed to give citizens, researchers and even government officials current detailed, localized and reliable information about the reach of the coronavirus. Designed for ease of use and interactivity, the tools are meant to provide more localized COVID-19 data than has been available from many other sources.
The Incidents Map provides confirmed cases and deaths by state, as well as county-level data. It includes trend graphs at the state level in the U.S., as well as the latest COVID-19 news and video from The Weather Channel editorial team. Public health information and patient education materials are also provided.
County-level data on the weather.com dashboard
The dashboard offers a deeper level of functionality and detail, which could be especially useful to researchers and public health officials.
In addition to the data provided by the Incidents Map, the dashboard contains hospitalization and demographic statistics. It will also include testing data, as that information becomes reliably available. The dashboard offers multiple ways to summarize data. For example, users can view statistics on active cases, deaths and recovered patients by country; number of cases by region; and historical trends. IBM is also considering developing additional tools for researchers.
The tools access and analyze data from the World Health Organization and national, state and local governments, with additional global data expected to follow.
A Team Effort, in Record Time
Created in less than a week, the Incidents Map and dashboard are the result of extensive IBM teamwork and are in keeping with a key IBM objective: providing Trusted Information for All.
Experts from throughout the company—the cloud and cognitive teams, Research, Global Business Services, and Systems—collaborated around the clock. They used Agile development methods, though with a work-from-home twist. Instead of gathering around a whiteboard, the developers and other experts worked remotely, using digital collaboration tools like Slack and teleconferencing.
Driven by the urgency of the project, the team completed difficult tasks in record time. Building the API, which might typically take three weeks, was accomplished in 24 hours. Constructing the underlying data layer, normally a two- to three-week job, was finished in a little under three days.