Undergraduate students create website comparing Covid-19's impact in Scotland

[2020] Third-year Computer Science students Mark Swan and Calum McMeekin have developed CovidMaps, an interactive website that facilitates comparison of the impact of Covid-19 between local authorities in Scotland.

Mark Swan Calum McMeekin
Mark Swan (l) and Calum McMeekin (r)

The website uses Covid-19 data compiled by the Scottish Government, specifically the number of deaths in care homes and hospitals, and organises this by local authority district or health board, thus facilitating comparison between regions in Scotland. The data is then presented as an interactive map, allowing the user to easily compare across regions and visualise the impact Covid-19 is having in the country. Software is used to automatically update data daily and weekly, ensuring that the website provides up-to-date information for users.

The project is driven by a desire to present the impact of Covid-19 in Scotland in a clear, easily digestible way so as to make it accessible to the general public, enabling them to see how their local area compares to the rest of the country. The Scottish Government provides a great deal of information regarding the impact of the pandemic at national level, which CovidMaps builds on by analysing the data by region and local authority. This provides a more comprehensive picture of the impact of coronavirus across Scotland.

Our project started out of personal curiosity, as we wanted to be able to compare how our local areas were doing in comparison to other areas in Scotland… Using the skills that we had learnt at university, we were able to digitally scrape information from the official Scottish government websites and present the data in a digestible format.

Mark Swan
Co-creator of CovidMaps

CovidMaps mainly draws its data from sources provided by the Scottish Government, however it has a secondary aim of presenting people’s movements under social distancing restrictions, which uses the Google mobility dataset. This dataset is comprised of anonymised information taken from people’s phones, therefore it can be used to track the movement of the general public. This will become particularly relevant as lockdown measures ease, by showing how a community behaves in response to greater freedom of movement.

In the future Mark and Calum hope to develop the website to include a national page. This will present statistics for Scotland as a whole in the same clear, concise and interactive format with which CovidMaps presents data on local authorities and health boards. The addition of a national page will further help the public to visualise and understand the impact of Covid-19 in Scotland.


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