COVID-19: Lockdown-Unlockdown your Data

Raghavendran S | GM Product Management & R&D PIXEL SOFTEK PVT. LTD

As a Mapophilic or a Mapophile, maps have always been my love, just like a rain to a pluviophile. Mica Trinidad lists seven strong signs of a pluviophile:

  1. You Find Comfort In The Rain
  2. You Enjoy Being Outside
  3. You Just Want To Bottle Up That “After Rain” Scent
  4. You Love The Darkness Of The Sky
  5. You Never Leave Your Window
  6. You Don’t Mind Getting Soaked In The Rain
  7. You Could Listen To The Sound Of Rain All Day

The equivalent of these strong signs for a Mapophilic or a Mapophile would be:

  1. You Find Comfort When You are with Maps, more than you are with your Wife, Kids or Family
  2. You Enjoy Being with Maps
  3. You Just Want To Bottle Up That Ingredients for that “Perfect Map”
  4. You Love The Symbols and Scale Bars on a Map than Smileys and Emoticons
  5. You Never Leave Your Desktop/Laptop when it comes to working with Maps
  6. You Don’t Mind Getting Soaked In Sweat, for a Spatial Solution using Maps
  7. You Could Look at Maps All Day (even if it was that of your neighbourhood

Suddenly maps are in the limelight every day for an odd reason, contrary to the common day-to-day reason to locate a restaurant that serves your favourite cuisine/dish or to know how the traffic is from your home to office or probably to locate and get directions to a place you are not familiar!

All media platforms have suddenly turned mapophilic; posting data on COVID-19 pandemic in the form of maps. The most popular being the dot thematic map (used to illustrate geographic densities and distributions of any phenomena, where one dot has a value of a certain number) with the ever-growing red dots, representing the criticality of the pandemic in that location.

If you have a sweet tooth for maps, then I am sure you will like all bitter truth (data) on COVID-19 served in the form of maps.

Where are we?

With each passing day, as this COVID-19 continues to threaten all our systems, epidemiologists and various experts are looking for new and innovative ways to manage various types of data on this pandemic.

From contact tracing to isolation and further follow up, every activity generates vast amount of data on this pandemic at a significantly increasing rate. This together with the demographic and other data such as data on health infrastructure has resulted in data explosion, popularly called “Big Data”.

Location intelligence and Geographical Information System (GIS) together with this big data is providing the much needed geospatial information and intelligence to all those engaged in the fight against COVID-19, from the first to the last line of defense. Big data together with GIS on the pandemic has shown without doubt that “Data is power” for epidemic analysis and decision support for control besides quick visualization of the pandemic information, spatial tracking, managing the supply and demand of health infrastructure and prediction of the pandemic transmission.

The Challenges

With the official mobile app such as Aarogya Setu primarily for contact tracing, syndromic mapping and self-assessment at the national level besides mobile apps at community level, there can be no doubt that the location based data generated on the pandemic is enormous.

Big data is all about the five Vs: Volume, Variety, Velocity, Veracity and Value. Besides the typical challenges posed by the five Vs of big data, the COVID-19 data warriors continue to face challenges with data aggregation, data quality and data integration. The fact with the pandemic data is that, it no longer comes mainly from the government agencies but also gathered from enterprises that are more diverse. The result, challenges in integration of heterogeneous data becomes a bottleneck to consume this data in GIS.

Just as the COVID-19 has locked us down in our homes, challenges with big data, integration of heterogeneous data, data aggregation and data quality continue to lock down the use of valuable data on the pandemic from the reach of COVID-19 data warriors!

The Unlockdown

In this context, ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) platforms and specifically Spatial ETL platforms are the key to unlock the challenges with heterogeneous big data aggregation and integration with GIS.

With Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) from Safe Software Inc., Canada, the golden key that can unlock data from 400+ formats and several data types, the COVID-19 data warriors are in “Safe” hands in handling challenges with heterogeneous big data aggregation and integration with GIS. FME, a data integration platform, with best support for spatial data can provide the much needed geospatial (big) data conversion-transformation-share-integration along with geospatial analytical capabilities to COVID-19 data warriors.

With one powerful integration engine and three ways to deploy: FME Desktop, FME Server and FME Cloud, COVID-19 data warriors can keep ahead of evolving Big (Geospatial) Data, while addressing the critical V’s.

Despite several challenges posed by Big (Geospatial) Data on the pandemic, it has the potential to improve operations and make quicker and intelligent decisions. Big (Geospatial) Data on COVID-19 when converted, transformed, shared and or integrated appropriately using a platform like FME, can help unlock the true potential of the data leading to better insights and decision making, thereby saving precious human lives!

About the Author

Raghavendran S—GM Product Management & R&D at PIXEL SOFTEK PVT. LTD.

Raghavendran S (aka SRG) with 20 years of experience in the geospatial (GIS) industry currently works at PIXEL SOFTEK PVT LTD, as GM Product Management and R&D.

He is currently the only person in India to have all three FME Certified Professional, FME Certified Trainer and FME Server Certified Professional certifications from Safe Software, Canada.

At PIXEL, he is responsible for solving complex data integration problems for various domestic and international clients using FME (Feature Manipulation Engine) platform from Safe Software, Canada.

He has presented several technical papers on GIS in various international & national GIS seminars, workshops & conferences.

He is recognized as a key resource person for delivering lectures in the field of GIS at workshops & training sessions organized by state governments, public sector organizations etc.

Related Posts