Meet the International Team Mapping the Real-Time Spread of the Coronavirus

Think of it like Wikipedia, but an open database — curated by volunteers.
March 26, 2020, 1:05pm

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The researchers of the Open COVID-19 Data Curation Group have seen what's worked in places like South Korea and Hong Kong to stem the spread of coronavirus, and how the U.S. is so woefully behind in its fight.

They've been on the case since the beginning.

Think of their project like Wikipedia, but an open database — curated by volunteers — that instead tracks and maps the real-time spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Since the onset of what has become the COVID-19 pandemic, this international team of over 20 researchers has been aggregating information and developing publicly available datasets to help people study the outbreak as it evolves.

Many of the researchers in the Open COVID-19 Data Curation Group first connected in 2015 while working on a similar project during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But the scale of COVID-19 has already made this latest effort a much larger task.

It's got several goals: inform the public on how this outbreak began, give a real-time look at how the situation is unfolding both locally and globally, and show what's working to stem the spread.

The information is being used by a wide array of individuals and organizations, including the CDC, the European CDC, and the World Health Organization.

“We didn’t necessarily anticipate in early January that this was going to become a pandemic,” said Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute and a member of the collaboration team. Initially the researchers were texting one another almost every hour with developments, he said, but now the project "really is being operated like the large-scale project it has become.”

The project is collaboratively led by Moritz Kramer of the University of Oxford and David Pigott of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Cover: Open COVID-19 Data Curation Group HealthMap