Knowledge is power: Keeping Australia informed during COVID-19
The COVID-19 Case Tracker Australia is a not-for-profit project run by a passionate team of volunteers. Led by Monash IT expert Dr Chunyang Chen, the platform was created to support a country in crisis – and hungry for information.
When COVID-19 spread rapidly around the world, Australia wasn’t prepared to handle the outbreak. With residents desperate for news, and key data plagued with inaccuracies, the proliferation of fake news was imminent.
To combat this problem, Dr Chen gathered a small team of students to create what would soon become a source of truth for many people across the nation – the COVID-19 Case Tracker.
Having attracted over two million website visits in less than a week, this ever-evolving platform provides timely updates on the COVID-19 situation in each state. It also maps patients’ trace histories and identifies which hospitals and clinics are offering testing.
Other features include:
- latest news and tweets from the Department of Health
- historical data analysis and visualisation
- a function to search for flight numbers with confirmed cases
- general information about the disease and its symptoms
- health and safety advice, and state helplines
- interesting blog articles, news stories and ‘daily distractions’ to spread positivity.
A diverse community of over 200 people from various countries has now given time to the project. Working round the clock, they’ve transformed a simple web page into a sophisticated system. With over 600,000 users.
Thanks to more and more people joining the cause, the team has been able to diversify and focus on specific tasks, such as data/news collection, marketing and development.
‘The operation of our site depends on the hard work of our volunteers. They’re tirelessly verifying and collecting data, and providing helpful information to ease the worries of our communities and keep everyone positive. We’ll continually add new features and data analysis to our site – to deliver greater benefits to our users.’ said Dr Chen
Today, the case tracker draws on expertise from faculties across Monash, including Business, Education and Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. It’s also driven by students and researchers from other institutions, such as The University of Melbourne, Deakin University and UNSW.
‘Our team wishes everyone good health and safety. We hope that our platform has helped people stay informed of the situation, and we’ll ensure that we continue to update our site. If you can, please support us by sharing it with your friends and family.’ continued Dr Chen.
Although not an official Monash IT project, the COVID-19 Case Tracker is a reflection of the altruism that runs through our faculty. This project also demonstrates how it only takes a handful of people to mobilise a community of changemakers and support an entire country.