COVID-19 and geospatial technology

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. And it becomes difficult to breathe. It spreads through the droplets and might infect another person, if there is a physical contact with the minute droplets.

The first COVID-19 case appeared in China in December 30, 2019 and then it started to spread to other countries mostly in Europe, North America, Middle East, Asian and other parts of the globe. Currently, many countries including India are under lockdown to stop community transmission of the pandemic and some are fighting community transmission.

Amid all this chaos, geospatial technology has been a great help in tracking the spread of the disease. This article focuses on how the the technology is significantly helping the governments of different countries in understanding the pattern and impact of COVID-19 in a specific geographic region.

It helps to identify the risk of community transmission. With GIS, we can have a better analysis and make the right decision. It also help to locate hospitals, testing labs pharmacies, quarantine facilities and also we can mark the new corona cases on the map to figure out the pattern of transmission.

GIS helps the government or decision makers in identifying the hotspot areas of the corona infected people. So, it could be easier to decide which ares must be under lockdown or quarantined.

GIS also helps to track the infected or quarantine people using their mobile phones.

  1. Data collection
  2. Data visualization
  3. Dashboard (Insight)

A. Data collection :

For COVID-19, mapping data is very important part of GIS. Most data is extracted from various official health government websites, World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). These organisations are responsible for tracking COVID-19 global disease data.

Talking about India, the Central and State governments are responsible to track and collect the COVID-19 data like Maharashtra Health Department (महाराष्ट्र शासन सार्वजनिक आरोग्य विभाग) and Ministry of Health and Family welfare government of India. We can download data from their websites and also we need Geospatial data in the form of Shapefile to download from DIVA-GIS, an open source GIS portal. It is possible to get any country admin boundary as well as other kinds of geospatial data from this portal (fig.4). We can use the GitHub for downloading COVID-19 database including global confirmed cases, deaths and recovered cases with time series data.




B. Data visualization:

Nowadays GIS (Geographical Information System) is widely used for COVID-19 analysis. There are various types of GIS open source as well as commercial Data visualization application software or web mapping portal where you can display your Pandemic COVID-19 data in the form of GIS maps, graphs and dashboard.

  1. Desktop GIS mapping

Arcmap (arcgis desktop) and QGIS

  1. Online / web mapping /Cloud GIS –

arcgis Online and

1. Offline GIS mapping – Arcmap (arcgis desktop),QGIS

Arcgis desktop is on top of the all commercial GIS mapping software programs. It requires license for installing and performing GIS tasks. With help of these software we can perform data modification, data analysis, data visualization, understanding the pattern of the diseases in the form of GIS maps and graphs.


QGIS is the most used Open Source GIS software for mapping. If you want to create a pandemic map, QGIS is the right medium to use as it’s free and open source.


  1. Online / web mapping/Cloud GIS –

Arcgis Online and

Web mapping is the process of using the maps delivered by geographic information systems (GIS) in the World Wide Web (wiki). With help of web mapping, we can display the interactive data and live data in the form of a web map at same time it is available to a large audience.

Arcgis Online:

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based mapping and analysis solution. Use it to make maps, analyze data and to share and collaborate(ESRI). Arcgis Online developed by ESRI, offers the user to create, maintain, and visualize 2D and 3D data in a more interactive way. We can analyze the data – publish it and share with different organizations or community.



We can upload the data in multiple formats, such as:

  • Shapefile (ZIP archive containing all shapefile files)
  • CSV or TXT files with optional address, place or coordinate locations (comma, semi-colon or tab delimited)
  • GPX (GPS Exchange Format)
  • GeoJSON (open standard format for simple geographical features) is a powerful open source geospatial analysis tool for large-scale data sets. It is a client-side application with no server back-end. Data is stored only on the machine/browser. No information or map data is sent to any server.

We can upload the data in multiple formats.

Local files: Upload CSV / GeoJSON files. As the data is only stored in the browser, there is a 250mb limit on how much data Chrome allows you to upload on a browser. For datasets larger than 250mb, we need to directly load them from a remote URL.

Here’s how to do it.

From URL:Directly load data or map json by pasting a remote URL. You can link it to CSV.



C. Dashboard (Insight):

Data dashboards provide a centralized, interactive means of monitoring, measuring, analyzing, and extracting meaningful information. Dashboard is quite famous for visualizing Pandemic COVID-19 data for its combination of multiple layers to display, such as, maps, Graph list of data and more. Every organization is using dashboard for coronavirus cases. Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) are tracking pandemic using ESRI Operational dashboard. There are multiple dashboard available like ESRI Operational Dashboard, Power BI, Tableau etc.

ESRI Operational Dashboard :
Uses charts, gauges, maps, and other visual elements to reflect the status and performance of people, services, assets, and events in real time.

ESRI dashboards are quite famous nowadays. Many organizations provide their information using ESRI technology. ESRI also providing software for community mapping programs. For the Dashboard we require an arcgis Organizational account, which will help display our data or we can share dashboard links. In the dashboard we can upload shapefile, CSV or we can connect live data using GeoEvent.






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