Odisha Using Mobility Analysis Tool To Track COVID-19 Infections

Adapting technology to fight the novel Coronavirus, the Odisha government has deployed security checks and enforced restrictions to contain the spread of the infection by analysing the movement patterns of people in COVID-19 hotspots. This analysis is being conducted by a team of researchers from IIT-Tirupati.

The researchers are said to be operating Artificial Intelligence (AI) backed tools for the same. The team led by Dr Kalidas Yeturu of the Computer Science Department has been using Facebook datasets, available for researchers and non-profits as a part of their Data for Good Program. These datasets have helped them to come up with near real-time mobility data of people in particular areas of Odisha.

This analysis has allowed the administration to take necessary actions especially in areas like Jajpur, Sundargarh, Balasore, Bhadrak, and Bhubaneswar, where despite lockdown restrictions, a spurt of movement was spotted. Jajpur district’s Katikata, Brahmabarada and Sana Trilochanpur, Nala Road of Rourkela, Puruna Bisra in Sundargarh, Niliabag in Balasore and Tesinga, Kharida and Binayakpur in Bhadrak have recently reported a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“A software developed by IIT-Tirupati, GeoCov19, is being used to generate automated reports to list top 10 regions for the State administration to focus on”, said Dr Kalidas, principal investigator for the project.

Along with Facebook datasets, the team also used red zone and ward-level coordinates which were provided by the Odisha Government. This has also helped prioritize areas.

“We have partnered with Facebook and through them with IIT Tirupati to get research-based analysis for insights to understand the degree to which communities in red zones are adopting physical distancing and whether more stringent enforcement needs to be deployed. We are reading these reports daily to have a real-time view of important correlates of disease transmission and thank Facebook and IIT Tirupati for supporting us with such important research work”, said Manoj Mishra, Secretary, Information Technology department.

The findings have proved that people are flouting public health guidelines and lockdown protocols. An increase in population counts which match with the inflow of migrants was noticed.

“Disease prevention maps have helped organisations respond to health emergencies for over a year. In the coronavirus context, researchers and non-profits are using the maps, which are built with aggregated data that people opt in to share, to understand and help combat the spread of the virus”, a Facebook Company spokesperson said.