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A medical staffer obtains a swab sample from a man inside a vehicle at a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre in Al Khawaneej, Dubai. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Authorities in Dubai have announced that they can now monitor and predict the spread of the coronavirus with the help of data analytics.

The Dubai COVID-19 Command and Control Centre (CCC) has collaborated with Smart Dubai to develop an innovative digital dashboard to monitor trends of COVID-19 cases, based on accurate and consistently updated real-time data. Analytical data will then be used to help facilitate effective containment measures.

Dr Amer Ahmad Sharif, chairman of the control centre and vice chancellor of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), said: "With the guidance of our leadership and the concerted efforts of the government and private sector, we were able to build a database filled with accurate information about the frequency of the spread of the virus in Dubai.”

The dashboard collates and monitors crucial information on total number of infections by type – asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, moderately symptomatic, and severely symptomatic – cumulative numbers of infections, recoveries, and critical cases across Dubai.

It utilises a variety of factors including demographics displaying per capita infections, geographical distribution of infections across Dubai, and cases in isolation facilities, along with logistical information such as the number of facilities and medical supplies available at each.

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Hospital staff in the huge field hospital at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Image Credit: AFP

“This platform is crucial in supporting the decision-making process to effectively confront the spread of the virus, based on available information and up-to-date data on the actual spread of the pandemic in Dubai, which will also support the healthcare system in the city,” said Dr Sharif.

Developed through a well-known epidemiology equation known as SEIR (Susceptible Exposed Infected Resistant), the dashboard helps in processing and analysing the data, and provides perceptions and predictions on COVID-19 developments. This specific dashboard was designed in a way that provides an analytical visualisation of the data as it includes detailed data to know the current situation, in addition to predicting the desired situation to control the spread of the virus in the community.

Younus Al Nasser, chief executive officer of Dubai Data – an initiative of Smart Dubai – and leader of the Technology and Data team at the COVID-19 Command and Control Centre, said: "Over the past years and through the Dubai Data and Smart Dubai, we have been able to establish a data experience that is one of the most comprehensive and innovative globally.”

He stressed that the dashboard will provide live data to decision makers, allowing them to follow the latest developments and updated measures to ensure the health and safety of citizens and residents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was a real test to our capabilities when it comes to data, and therefore we employed the available infrastructure to find the best ways to support decision-making processes to control this pandemic," said Al Nasser.

In collaboration with Smart Dubai and its data scientists, the dashboard was linked with the Dubai Health Authority’s Hasana Program – a public health system that monitors and manages infectious diseases and epidemics – by connecting government and private healthcare sectors in Dubai, and their partners, using a unified system for managing diseases and outbreaks. This system enables users to review results to support decision-making, and can send electronic notifications on the availability of laboratory results and disease status.

"The dashboard plays an important role in the gradual reopening of various industries in Dubai, so the dashboard data will allow us to support decisions for the safe return of business activities and daily life in the coming period," he added.