Covid-19 facts and figures have become a global preoccupation as the virus turns lives upside down. Finding reliable local statistics was difficult, so Dr Vukosi Marivate created a detailed database collating Covid-19 data and analysing it in dozens of useful ways.
Marivate is the chair of Data Science at Pretoria University and the principal investigator at its Data Science for Social Impact Research Group (DSFSI) turns copious data into useful facts for actions based on solid analysis.
The DSFSI’s dashboard is an open resource that gives the full picture of Covid-19 in South Africa using current data from the Department of Health and National Institute for Communicable Diseases [NICD].
“What the dashboard and data repository does is provide one place where all the necessary information is available to the public and scientists, and it’s continuously updated, which is especially important for those in the health sector who need to make decisions by the hour,” he says. “Without this information, we don’t know where we should be putting resources or offering support.”
The site still doesn’t show all the information he’d like to present, such as reporting how many beds are still available in each hospital and the number of specialists working there. The government doesn’t make some figures public, but he’s working to change official opinion, arguing that facts can prevent people panicking by preventing rumours from circulating.
Marivate holds a PhD in computer science and is a specialist in data science, natural language processing, and using machine learning and artificial intelligence to extract insights from data. Before the pandemic struck, he’d worked on projects using data to guide the social effect of decisions made regarding energy, public safety and utilities.