Two Chinese students are behind one of the most widely-cited COVID-19 global data maps.
Together with instructor Lauren Gardner, the two doctoral students at John Hopkins University in the US has built a website to visualize the global pandemic.
So far, the site has received at least 16 billion visits.
"We had a group meeting on January 21, when our instructor asked us whether we knew about the disease developing in China. We said yes, as we'd been following the figures on Chinese websites. The instructor then suggested setting up a dashboard for data updates. We spent 7 to 8 hours that night to build a prototype," said Dong Ensheng, a PhD candidate at School of Engineering, also one of the team members.
"On one hand, we've been very concerned about the situation in our home country. On the other hand, we want to make full use of our expertise to record how we humans conquer the disease," Dong added.
By sourcing global data, the website now updates every 20 minutes.
It operates largely automatically, but sometimes requires human correction to keep data precise.
"We designed a program to source data from all kinds of origins to collate into unified format. The processed data will then be sent to our server," said Du Hongru, Dong's team mate.
"We also left space in the program to allow for human modification. If the result returned doesn't make sense, the system will remind us to check," said Du.
The students said credibility of the system owes much to the timely-sharing of data, including by China.
They hope to see the disease contained via global cooperation soon.
(Video produced by Zhao Wenyu)