Alexander Krusina, Oscar Chen, Lucia Otero Varela, Chelsea Doktorchik, Vince Avati, Søren Knudsen, DA Southern, Cathy Eastwood, Nishan Sharma, and Tyler Williamson
INTRODUCTION. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic unveiled a strong need for advanced and informative surveillance tools. The Centre for Health Informatics (CHI) at the University of Calgary took action to develop a surveillance dashboard, which would facilitate the education of the public, and answer critical questions posed by local and national government. OBJECTIVES. The objective of this study was to create an interactive method of surveillance, or a “COVID-19 Tracker” for Canadian use. The Tracker offers user-friendly graphics characterizing various aspects of the current pandemic (e.g. case count, testing, hospitalizations, and policy interventions). METHODS. Six publicly available data sources were used, and were selected based on the frequency of updates, accuracy and types of data, and data presentation. The datasets have different levels of granularity for different provinces, which limits the information that we are able to show. Additionally, some datasets have missing entries, for which the “last observation carried forward” method was used. The website was created and hosted online, with a backend server, which is updated on a daily basis. The Tracker development followed an iterative process, as new figures were added to meet the changing needs of policy-makers. RESULTS. The resulting Tracker is a dashboard that visualizes real-time data, along with policy interventions from various countries, via user-friendly graphs with a hover option that reveals detailed information. The interactive features allow the user to customize the figures by jurisdiction, country/region, and the type of data shown. Data is displayed at the national and provincial level, as well as by health regions. CONCLUSION. The COVID-19 Tracker offers real-time, detailed, and interactive visualizations that have the potential to shape crucial decision-making and inform Albertans and Canadians of the current pandemic.