Geographic Information Systems
A Geographical Information System (GIS) is a computer-based technology designed to analyze, manage, store, and display geospatial data (Chang, 2014). They are systems equipped with software capable of analyzing and displaying data using digitized maps in order to improve planning and decision making (Laudon & Laudon, 2011). The GIS allows us to see, understand, question, interpret, and visualize our world in order to reveal patterns, relationships, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and graphs. The technologies related to geographic information are broad and involve analytical methods, cartography, and visualization, design, data modeling, geospatial data, geocomputing, data manipulation, in addition to organizational and institutional aspects and linked to society (DiBiase et al., 2006).
A GIS is an information system that provides information for decision making based on geographic location. Certain information depends on where it originated. A GIS includes a database in which one organizes all data by geographic location. Almost any type of data can be stored in this database. The data is stored in joined layers just as a geographic location. A GIS can provide information to support decision making (Nickerson, 1998).
GIS is a particular category of DSS (Decision Support Systems) (Laudon & Laudon, 2011; João, 2015) that, thanks to data visualization technology, analyzes and displays data for planning and decision making in the form of maps scanned. The software can collect, store, manipulate and display information geographically, tying data with points, lines and areas on a map. The GIS also has a modeling feature, allowing managers to change data and automatically review business scenarios in search of better solutions.
Geographic analysis is the main form of GIS. Depending on the project, there are many different analytical approaches to perform a choice. GIS modeling tools make it relatively easy to perform simple or complex analyzes and create new results.
As Chang (2014) mentioned, GIS can store, manipulate, and display geospatial data on computer systems. After the data is collected, edited, and referenced to a designed coordinate system, the following step is to make the data readily available to users to make maps, assist in fieldwork and perform spatial analysis.
Web GIS, the product of integrating web and GIS technologies, is different from traditional GIS in that it masks the differences between the various types of databases, networks, hardware, and software (Lu et al. 2010). It is a platform to provide GIS resources to many organizations that share and collaborate GIS resources on the Internet to easily access and use geographic information (Law, 2013). Therefore, Web GIS provides accessible, manageable, and shareable global geographic data, information data indiscriminately (Liu et al. 2009).
Modern GIS systems use GPS (Global Positioning Systems), which is one of the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System). There are others like the Russian GLONASS system and the European Galileo system. Even social networks like Twitter present spatial data represented by latitude and longitude data for each twitter posted, which facilitates tracking in outbreak situations. The science and technology associated with the earth's image is called remote sensing. More advanced systems use lasers for mapping with those used by LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). This technique is capable of generating extremely detailed three-dimensional models of the earth's surface, being a technique used, for example, to measure the effects of a hurricane-like Sandy off the coast of New York and New Jersey in 2012. Earthquakes are another example of GIS use using beyond the latitude, longitude, and depth beyond, of course, the magnitude reported for the event.
Roux and Mair (2010), in a work on neighborhoods and health, on how residential environments can affect health and contribute to ethnic and racial inequalities in health, focusing on the results of chronic diseases (specifically obesity and related risk factors) and mental health (specifically depression and depressive symptoms) state that the explosion of GIS and spatial analysis techniques allow the examination of space in a much more detailed and sophisticated way than was possible in the past.
GIS for disease outbreaks is not new. An example, of a proto-GIS, is the work carried out by Dr. John Snow, in the late summer of 1854, to map the sources that caused a cholera outbreak in London's Soho region, mapping the detected cases. From August 31 to September 3, 127 people died of cholera (ARCGIS, 2020). As a result, and within a week, 500 people died, and about one in seven people who developed cholera and, eventually, died. All of this occurred 250 meters from the intersection of Cambridge Street and Broad Street (Figure 1 - shown in detail on the right). This proto-GIS allowed Snow to accurately locate contaminated water as well as the source of the outbreak.
Although the techniques have advanced considerably since the John Snow cholera map, the basic principles established by Snow still exist in current epidemiological thinking. Figure 2 presents a rereading of Snow's cholera map using current techniques.
An example of how to develop a GIS project is presented by Brewer (2006) on the development of a system for monitoring prostate cancer mortality in a timeline (how a set of events occurs over time) and including different populations.
About Wuhan and Coronavirus
Wuhan is a traditional industrial center. Of the 500 largest global companies, 230 have investments in the city (BBC News, 2020). In the automobile sector alone, there are ten factories, with Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen, Nissan, Honda, and GM standing out. There is also a nascent innovation industry, with 1656 high-tech companies (Wuhan Optics Valley Area) focused on biomedicine and medical equipment. Companies like PepsiCo and Siemens have operations in Wuhan. With the outbreak, companies like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, H&M, Ikea, and Apple temporarily closed their stores.
On the last day of 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of an outbreak of "pneumonia of unknown cause" detected in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China - the seventh-largest city in China, with 11 million people. As of January 23, there were more than 800 cases of COVID-19 confirmed globally, including cases in at least 20 regions in China and nine countries/territories. The first reported infected individuals, some of whom have had symptoms since December 8, were found among street vendors in the seafood market in South China of Wuhan. Subsequently, the wet market closed on January 1. The virus causing the outbreak was quickly determined to be a new coronavirus. On January 10, genetic sequencing further determined the new Wuhan coronavirus, namely COVID-19, a beta coronavirus, related to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus (SARS-CoV). However, the mortality and transmissibility of COVID-19 are not yet fully known (Gardner, 2020).
Still, according to Gardner (2020), infected travelers (mainly by air travel) are known to be responsible for introducing the virus outside Wuhan. On January 13, Thailand reported the first international case outside of China, while the first cases in China, but outside Wuhan, were reported on January 19 in Guangdong and Beijing. On January 20, the National Health Commission of China (NHC) confirmed that the coronavirus could be transmitted between humans. On the same day, Japan and South Korea confirmed human infections by COVID-19, and the following day cases detected in the US and Taiwan in travelers returning from Wuhan. On January 21, several provinces in China were also registering new cases, and the infection was confirmed in 15 health professionals, with six deaths reported. Additional travel cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and Vietnam. On 22 January, a WHO emergency committee met to discuss whether the outbreak should be classified as a public health emergency of international interest (PHEIC) under International Health Regulations but was initially undecided due to a lack of information before deciding against the declaration.
Of immediate concern is the risk of additional transmission resulting from high volumes of travel and mass meetings in celebration of the Chinese New Year on January 24. In an attempt to mitigate local transmission in China, unprecedented outbreak control strategies have been implemented in (initially) three cities. On January 23, 2020, Wuhan suspended all public transport and air travel (inside and outside the city), quarantining all 11 million people in the city. On January 24, Huanggang and Ezhou, cities adjacent to Wuhan, will also be placed in a similar quarantine. Besides, many cities have canceled Chinese New Year celebrations.
Johns Hopkins University, was founded in 1876, is the first research center in the USA. A vital mark is the presence of 36 Nobel Prize winners, who have studied, taught, or conducted research. It has six schools for graduation (Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Whiting School of Engineering, School of Education, Carey Business School, School of Nursing, and Peabody Institute). School of Nursing students prepare for the fields of medicine in specific master and doctoral courses. Johns Hopkins has three graduate schools: School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and School of Advanced International Studies - SAIS. Johns Hopkins also has facilities in Nanjing, China. The medical school is in Baltimore, Maryland. The hospital was opened in 1889 and is rated No.1 in the USA by the News & World Report for 22 consecutive years (Hopkinsmedicine, 2020).