Mapping tool developed at Case Western gives real-time, location-based risk assessment for COVID-19

Posted at 4:41 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 11:51:23-04

CLEVELAND — What if you could gauge your risk of getting COVID-19 before you step foot into a grocery store or a post office? Well, two data science researchers at Case Western Reserve University developed a mapping tool that gives a user real-time, location-based risk assessment for the transmission of COVID-19.

Researchers Yanfang Ye and Kenneth Loparo have been working on the tool since March 5. Ye said the goal of the map is to help the public better understand the spread of the virus.

“A growing number of areas are reporting ‘community transmission' of the virus, which would represent a significant turn for the worse in the battle against the novel coronavirus,” Ye said.

In the first two days of launching the test site in April, there were more than 6,100 searches typed in the search box and more than 22,000 places viewed.

The system, driven by artificial intelligence, is designed to provide the community-level risk estimates to help residents protect themselves while still going about their daily routine, such as the grocery store, the bank and take-out restaurants.

The way it works is a user would type in address number or name of the location to see the risk. The primary number in the box is a “risk index,” which is an automatically calculated number based on multiple factors, including COVID-19 cases in the area, historical demographic data from the census, mobility data from Google Maps and user-generated data from social media sites like Reddit.

The example Case Western Reserve researchers used was a user can click on three grocery stores in Lake County, east of Cleveland, and can quickly see that two have a risk factor of 0.760 and the third is slightly higher at 0.776. All three are below the county average of .787 so the user can have the information to make their decision.

There is also data on which store has lower or higher traffic, which the public can use to weigh their risk.

You can access the map here.

Editor's note: You may need to allow your location to be tracked in your browser in order to get the map to work.

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