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Cities can provide the location of manholes for collecting samples and demarcating the boundary on the map where traces of viruses are found, to create local containment zones | Photo source Transerve

COVID-predicting sewage epidemiology and data analysis

Computing & Tech

A data analytics company has developed a tool to help epidemiologists predict outbreaks of the coronavirus


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Spotted: Epidemiologists know that rapid tracing of new coronavirus outbreaks is key to containing the spread of the disease. But testing backlogs, and the fact that many infected people can be asymptomatic, continues to make tracing difficult. Epidemiologists are thus increasingly turning to wastewater analysis as an answer. This involves testing sewage in different areas for viral material, which can indicate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in an area, even before it is detected through testing.

One issue with sewage testing is that epidemiologists need a way to easily monitor and track a large number of testing sites. Data analysis company Transerve is now offering a digital tool to help with this. Their Geospatial Sewerage Surveillance (GSS) system is designed to analyse sewage for early signs of infection. It is built on a cloud-based tool, called the ‘Transerve Online Stack’. 

The GSS platform can help pinpoint the best locations for collecting faecal samples, in conjunction with health departments. Once the samples are analysed, the platform then uses spatial analytics tools and GIS data to analyse the patterns of infection. The platform can help pinpoint not only where outbreaks have already occurred, but where they are likely to occur in the near future. 

The platform essentially acts as an early warning tool. The company told Springwise that the analytics can provide, “a window of up to five days before symptoms of the virus show” and can also be used as an early warning sign if the virus returns. They explain that “This method will help health officials to test a limited population in an area where traces of coronavirus are found in order to isolate the area. Moreover, the same solution can also be used to prioritise vaccination in such areas where more samples with traces are found.”

Data analysis, especially AI-driven geospatial analysis, is rapidly becoming an indispensable tool in a variety of industries. At Springwise, we have seen this in innovations such as a platform that allow cities to manage scooter traffic, and the way in which it is adding transparency to supply chains.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Explore more: Computing & Tech Innovations | Health & Wellbeing Innovations



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