To counter the spread of unreliable COVID-19 data, the University of Pretoria (UP) has created two databases set to provide citizens with accurate information in April. The Data Science for Social Impact group has set up a repository and a dashboard that pulls information from the National Institute of Communicative Diseases (NICD), and the Department of Health. When the minister of health and the NICD started publishing their data only in statements, the team saw a need for other researchers to get ahold of the information for accessibility. They provided an easy to understand, factual, and interactive dashboard that the public can use to understand the impact of the pandemic on the country. The website is reliable as it excludes all false information. The other database was developed by the Department of Statistics at the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with other international universities.
The web-based app is interactive with reliable and efficient COVID-19 information. The app displays the number of infections, recoveries, and deaths worldwide. The data is collected from the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. With the rapid spread of the coronavirus globally, there is a rise in fake news regarding the pandemic (in forms of WhatsApp voice notes, chain messages, and videos). It is now illegal to spread fake information regarding the coronavirus in South Africa. Since the new law was implemented, a couple of arrests have been made, and members of the community have practiced more caution when sharing COVID-19 related information. Both databases created show UP’s commitment to slow the spread of fake news, and provide reliable information to the public from world trusted organizations.
Image: Cletus Mulaudi