Original title: Behind the daily click on the 1 billion global epidemic map, the two Chinese doctoral students
first thing that get up every morning is to open the computer to check the web page and mailbox to see if there is any data that needs to be updated and corrected. Then monitor the epidemic data at any time throughout the day in an almost 7 × 24 (24 consecutive hours per day per week) manner …
, and it is necessary to rotate it Since the outbreak of the New Crown epidemic in the past few months, this is the doctoral student Dong Ensheng Du Hongru’s daily routine.
The global government, media, and professionals are regarded as the gods, and the Johns Hopkins University’s global new crown epidemic data map with more than 1 billion daily views was born on the personal computers of two Chinese doctoral students in this school.
The story has to start with a cup of coffee more than two months ago.
Global Epidemic Data No. 1, starting with a cup of coffee
Monday, January 20 is the United States Martin Luther King Day. The statutory holiday and Saturday and Sunday became a small long holiday, which made Dong Ensheng and Du Hongru mentor Lauren Gardner’s original group meeting every Monday until 10 am on Tuesday.
Twenty-four hours ago, Academician Zhong Nanshan just confirmed the infection of human-to-human transmission and medical personnel of the New Coronavirus to the world through CCTV live broadcasts. The United States also confirmed the first new case of new pneumonia on the same day. On Tuesday morning, Dong Ensheng had learned from the news that Wuhan might soon be “closing the city”, and was a bit worried about the domestic situation.
But at Johns Hopkins University, teachers and students who have just finished their holidays are relaxed. During the vacation, a doctoral qualification examination was held, and Dong Ensheng and Du Hongru both passed successfully. The mentor Professor Gardner bought a cup of coffee for everyone. Everyone talked while drinking, talking from the holiday life to the research plan for the next semester.
The three teachers and students are located in the Systems Science and Engineering Center of the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Professor Gardner is in the school ’s School of Infectious Diseases. Their research directions include systems engineering, mathematical modeling, Network analysis and epidemiology.
drinking coffee. Professor Gardner asked Dong Ensheng: “Do you know that China’s new crown pneumonia is very serious recently?”
In May 2019, Dong Ensheng designed a Maps of the risk of measles in the United States have been reported by the New York Times, CNN and other media. This time, Professor Gardner suggested to Dong Ensheng to make another data map for the new crown epidemic in China.
“Because of my experience in making measles maps in the United States, basically I only need to replace measles with new coronary pneumonia data to complete the basic work.” That night, Johns Hopkins University’s global new crown epidemic data map was in Dong Ensheng’s hands. It came into being. However, the default view angle of the map at this time is limited to East Asia.
On February 1, Du Hongru officially joined the work. They get up early every day to maintain maps of epidemic situation, and the data on China’s epidemic situation are mainly obtained through the website of China National Health and Health Commission and Dingyuan.
“As confirmed cases appear in more countries, an obvious contrast is that the data on the Chinese side is much better in terms of presentation form and timeliness, which brings great convenience for data acquisition and entry.” Dong Ensheng told Beijing Daily customers At the beginning, the epidemic data of other countries came mainly from the media. Until now, when the global epidemic has been very serious, the specific epidemic data in the United States and some counties are difficult to obtain from public sources. County and city health committees can basically find relevant data relatively easily. ”
This picture, why is it becoming a global focus of
medicine and public health is the strength of Johns Hopkins University, its public health school has always been in American universities Number one. At the end of February, the number of confirmed cases of new coronary pneumonia in the United States quietly reached dozens of cases. The outbreaks in Iran and Italy showed an outbreak. The epidemic maps made by Dong Ensheng and Du Hongru also received more and more attention.
“Probably at this stage, the US local health department contacted us and expressed the hope that we can see the situation of the United States on the map.” Dong Ensheng said that if you make another map of the United States alone, the workload is too large. In addition, users from different countries also find them, put forward some suggestions and needs, and some people even hope to make a national language version, “I said that we can’t do it.”
Since we can’t satisfy everyone’s specific Demand, the team decided to simply extend the default scope of the epidemic map to the whole world.
In fact, in view of the unprecedented destructive power and threat of New Coronary Pneumonia, John Hopkins University is not alone in such a global “outbreak data map” system. Harvard University has collaborated with Oxford University, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Microsoft’s Bing search (Bing) have designed and released similar systems for the global public.
The epidemic map of the United States released by the CDC can display the epidemic data of each state. Because of its official nature, it is authoritative. But Dong Ensheng said that compared with their maps, CDC maps have two obvious shortcomings, the update is not timely, and the accuracy is limited.
“Maybe what is updated today is the data from the previous day, and we basically update it in real time. Their data can only be accurate to the state level, and we can be accurate to the counties below the state.”
In fact, it is precisely because of the discovery of CDC The accuracy of the data was insufficient, and Dong Ensheng and Du Hongru only intended to “upgrade” the accuracy of the US portion of their maps.
The epidemic map designed by Harvard and Oxford is not as good as John Hopkins University. One obvious difference is that the former uses shades of color to reflect the severity of the epidemic, and the latter uses dot size. Du Hongru introduced that the maps of Harvard and Oxford have animations showing the global development process since the outbreak of the New Crown, which they did not have.
Dong Ensheng praised the epidemic map designed by Microsoft Bing.
The reporter found that the Bing map can provide more accurate data than Johns Hopkins University in some aspects, such as local epidemic data in Russia, India, Indonesia and other countries, and the Johns Hopkins University map is here A few countries only show national data. However, the latter can reflect the development trend of each country’s epidemic since the outbreak in the form of curves and histograms. The functions are more abundant, and the data is open, which facilitates academic research.
Updating data and perfecting functions require a lot of time and effort. Du Hongru admitted frankly and unexpectedly as the team’s first “reinforcement” of the development of the new crown epidemic worldwide.
“Professor Gardner and Grace Sheng began just want to track about the development of the epidemic in China, I never thought needed more and more manpower, did not expect the United States two months later the situation would be far worse than China.”
Two Over the past few months, the Johns Hopkins University Global New Crown Outbreak Data Map has long become the world’s most authoritative outbreak data platform.
At first, when there were only seven or eight people in the team, working continuously for a week, each person had to bear 15 to 20 hours of work per day, which was a huge pressure. This was improved after the map data update mode was upgraded to fully automatic on March 23. The team now has thirty or forty members, from all over the United States and some other countries, to maintain and communicate with each other through the network. Dong Ensheng said that his role has also changed. “Now it’s a bit like a product manager.”
Although the three teachers and students are not part of the Department of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University has given them great support in all aspects. . Together with mentor Professor Gardner, Dong Ensheng and Du Hongru can often participate in the discussion of the Institute of Infectious Diseases and obtain academic suggestions; the school has been suspended and closed for more than half a month, but they have been specially provided with a pass for them to continue to the school. Scientific research activities; the principal’s office even arranged an administrative assistant directly for them. All these have become a strong backing for the development of the epidemic map.
Are the epidemic data authentic? They think so
Dong Ensheng has been studying in the US for seven or eight years, and Du Hongru has three years. Since the outbreak of the epidemic in Hubei, they across the ocean have gone from worrying to being worried. As of April 8 local time, Baltimore, where Johns Hopkins University is located, has 571 confirmed cases, which is not a small number for Baltimore with a population of more than 2 million. At the same time, Baltimore’s notoriously chaotic law and order has also increased the concerns of the two and their families.
Dong Ensheng told the Beijing Daily client that from January to the present, he did not go out to buy food more than 5 times. In more cases, he bought goods through take-out. “Baltimore is quite unsafe and there are frequent shootings. The local people’s awareness of virus protection is still not strong. We basically go to Asian supermarkets with better protection.”
China’s successful epidemic prevention and control has attracted worldwide attention from Chinese students At the hand of Johns Hopkins University’s global new crown epidemic data map, naturally also carries Chinese elements. Du Hongru bluntly said: “The map can be produced so quickly, and I have a certain relationship with Ensheng from China. Compared with other people, we pay more attention to the epidemic and invest more in the initial stage of map construction. . “The
Lilac Garden website is the original primary data source for the map. “Lilac Garden only has Chinese, and the innate advantage of language allows us to convert the data of Lilac Garden as quickly as possible and translate the information into English for reference by the tutor.” Du Hongru said.
Dong Ensheng also has his own views on the recent “questions” that have arisen around China’s epidemic data internationally. In his view, the growth curve of China’s epidemic data is very gentle after reaching a certain level, which can prove that the epidemic situation is under control. To further prove the authenticity of the data, it is difficult for many countries to do this, especially after the epidemic has spread worldwide.
On February 13, Hubei suddenly notified more than 13,000 newly diagnosed cases. Dong Ensheng feels that this is a change in a more reasonable statistical method, but there have been many criticisms of China’s epidemic data internationally.
“Actually, the United States has a similar problem. For example, Italy has only reported serious cases for some time. Some states and counties in the United States do not report cases outside the country, such as Maine next to Boston and New York. If there is one who has registered its status in a big city The infected person returned to the local area to be diagnosed and may not be included in the local confirmed case for notification. However, the big city where he was originally may not be included in the diagnosis because he has already left. This results in accurate statistics of the data Interference. ”
As the maker of the global epidemic data” center “, both expressed” not optimistic “about the growing epidemic situation in the United States.
Du Hongru said that although Italy and Spain are more serious than the United States in terms of the proportion of confirmed cases in the population, the number of confirmed cases in the United States has indeed shown an exponential growth.
“Since the release of the home segregation policy in the United States, we have been able to see that some areas have improved, but it is not clear whether we can usher in an” inflection point. “The only analysis we can do at present is to determine which areas are at higher risk, and the future diagnosis and death There is no way to predict the growth trend. If the forecast can only predict 3 to 5 days. ”
Dong Ensheng said that what worries him most is how much ordinary Americans attach importance to the epidemic, because only everyone really cares about themselves and those around them The security of the “national epidemic” can really control the virus, instead of the government saying what you have to do to deal with it.
The two told the Beijing Daily client that the map function will be further optimized and upgraded. They may add virus detection data from various states in the United States and the proportion of confirmed cases in the population. “”