Is there a certain bus line that passes through a hospital center and areas of high concentration of people, that could be a possible source of infection? Has a Covid-19 outbreak taken place in a town in Galicia, and has it spread in a few days without being detected by the health system? Retrospectively analyzing why certain events occurred during the pandemic, and offering a clear picture of the situation to prevent it from happening again, is one of the objectives of the coronavirus risk mapping carried out by the Territorial Analysis group of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) with funding from the Galician Innovation Agency, within the framework of the call open by this entity, attached to the ‘Consellería’ of Economy, Employment and Industry of Xunta de Galicia, to promote activities of R+D+i that provide solutions to the crisis.
“When we saw what was happening, we started to investigate, due to the previous work we had already done, to develope the first spatial analyses using maps that had allowed us to follow the epidemic,” explains Ángel Miramontes Carballada, professor at USC and member of the Institute of Studies and Development of Galicia (Idega), who will lead the project. When the call was opened, his group answer to it and ended up being one of the eight initiatives selected from more than 160 proposals.
With this contribution, which is up to 71,000 euros, the USC team will be able to hire the more research staff for the project and develop the lines of collaboration that they had already opened since the beginning of the pandemic with international experts in spatial data analysis and experts in health geography, among other disciplines.
“The idea is to analyze the spatial behavior of the spread of the virus through three main aspects: the sources of contagion, both those that have already occurred and those that could occur in the future; the territorial factors that may influence the spread; and the ability to indicate to the competent authorities the necessary actions to stop this possible spread”, Miramontes details.
Constant updating and new variables
In order to guarantee better monitoring, the tool will have the ability to adapt and update itself with different variables depending on the evolution of the crisis. “Our idea is that it twists around three large blocks: on the one hand, the socioeconomic indicators, with the infrastructures that must be taken into account, such as hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, etc .; second, the analysis of data to act on a scale of great detail, from small population entities to the whole municipality, and thirdly, to have the data of the epidemic itself. Once we produce this cartography, we can analyze all the available information from different perspectives “, the investigator explains.
With this tool, the project aims to bring “true information” to the disposition of the health authorities, which helps in making optimal decisions in the face of the crisis. “We will always work with the official data, and with all the relevant aspects to take into account to outline the tool.”