Researchers Chart Vital Territory with COVID-19 Data Dashboards

To contribute to the public battle with COVID-19, University of Texas at Dallas faculty, staff and students have built websites that track current coronavirus health data and model future scenarios.

Researchers from the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC), the School of Economics, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS), the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) developed the dashboards so that government entities and the general public can access the same data.

“COVID is public enemy No. 1,” said Dr. Paul Fishwick, director of the Creative Automata Laboratory. “I was pleased to join this community of scholars and provide my limited expertise to contribute to the cause.”

Fishwick, who also is an ATEC Distinguished University Chair and professor of computer science, and Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu, professor of computer science, led a team of computer science researchers in developing a website that provides a snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Dallas-Fort Worth-area counties. It also shows health information for each county in Texas, including confirmed cases and deaths and a section where county statistics can be compared.

A dashboard created by Dr. Timothy Bray, associate professor of practice of public policy and political economy and director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research, provides COVID-19 information that can help city and county governments plan ahead. The site shows information such as infection rate over a two-week period and per capita comparisons for individual counties, the state or dozens of U.S. metropolitan areas, as well as DFW hospital capacity and area testing rates.

“Understanding the prevalence of the virus is one of the big challenges our leaders are facing,” Bray said. “We also are looking at more detailed testing data in the city of Dallas because we know there are huge numbers of folks who have either had it or never been tested.”

City of Dallas officials have said they will use the dashboard to make data-driven decisions regarding reopening city facilities, informing first responders, and adjusting policies and procedures as disease conditions change.

Dr. Paul Fishwick

Dr. Timothy Bray

Dr. Qiwei Li

Dr. Qiwei Li, assistant professor of mathematical sciences, has developed a site that brings together several of the most popular models being used to assess COVID-19 growth.

“We present prediction results from a broad variety of models originating from population and epidemiology studies,” he said. “Different models may have different prediction performance during different times, so it is important to comprehensively evaluate different methods for preparing for the next round of COVID-19 or for our next pandemic.”

The professors who created the data websites said they are pleased they could contribute to the cause, but said there is more work to be done.

“It’s just a starting point,” Kantarcioglu said. “We want to add more comparisons, and we have had discussions about combining social media with models and so on. So we’ll be adding more graphs, more models and more results.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].