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SA ups its Covid-viz game

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford

The fresh start to the new year many hoped for didn’t really happen in South Africa, what with lockdowns and booze bans and a second wave/new strain of coronavirus setting new records for detected cases and deaths daily (there are more active cases now than at any point last year – although this may well be down to improved data capturing and capacity for testing). It’s good to see more effort going into official information dashboards – over the break we saw StatsSA launch a Covid vulnerability dash, a neat Shiny application from the SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium which focusses on hospital admissions and risk indicators, and Gauteng government punting its hotspot map (which actually launched in August, but is worth a remention).

All good initiatives, but one things that’s missing even from the ones labelled “open source” is easy access to the underlying data. The Gauteng tool cites the excellent work of DSFSI which does an excellent job of scraping and collating from the majority of sources, but can only do what it can. It’s a real struggle for media – especially in areas where updates aren’t so regular as, say, Gauteng or the Western Cape – to put together the data they need to keep audiences informed. Here’s hoping that if early 2021 doesn’t see an end to the pandemic, it at least brings with it an officially maintained, open repository of Covid data for all.

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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