Helping to understand the spread of COVID-19 with ArcGIS

11th September 2020

Working in the Research Team at Esri UK, I get a lot of opportunities to use new and emerging technologies. In time, much of the early technology we work with goes on to help our customers do great things. But it’s not so often our team gets to work with a customer to make that happen. As such, I’d like to tell you about a major study we’ve been supporting called Virus Watch.  

Virus Watch banner

What is Virus Watch? 

Virus Watch is the UK’s largest and most comprehensive household study of COVID-19. The study is being run by UCL in conjunction with the NHS. Together, they aim to understand how the virus spreads in the community and, by extension, how to stop it.  

To do this, over 40,000 participants from all backgrounds across England and Wales will submit regular online surveys about their current health and symptoms. In addition, a subset of 10,000 participants will receive antibody and swab tests.  

Where does Esri UK come in?  

At its core, the spread of a virus is a spatial issue. Because Virus Watch participants will be distributed across England and Wales, the study is designed to see geographic trends. To improve the resolution of spatial information, a subset of 10,000 participants will use Esri’s ArcGIS Tracker app to provide their location throughout the study. As travel restrictions are lifted and more people return to work, this information will provide more opportunities for analysis than a participant’s home address alone.  

Bringing it all together 

By combining the medical surveys, test results and location data, Virus Watch will use ArcGIS Pro, among other tools, to uncover previously unknown patterns in the spread of COVID-19. Gaining insight into these will help us better prepare for the future.  

You can help too

This vital study is being run by Virus Watch and you can register at the Virus Watch websiteclick here