Hello Hossein Shokri Ghadikolaei, Postdoc at the Division of Network and Systems Engineering

Published May 11, 2020

We spoke to Hossein Shokri Ghadikolaei who has been working on covidmap.se, a web app made for self reporting and visualisation of COVID-19 status.

Tell us a little bit about covidmap.se?

“It was based on a collaboration with an international self-report consortium based in Switzerland. Individuals can self-report their symptoms and COVID-19 status on the website and see a hotspot map, showing the number of cases in their neighbourhood. Official data from public health authorities does not have such info, making self-reporting the only feasible approach. It has been developed during HackTheCrisis hackathon of Sweden and since then we got more than 8k reports from all over Sweden. Covidmap.se is an open source project and we have recently redesigned the website for a better symptom tracking and data visualisation.”

What is your part of the development of the map?

Sina Molavipour , a Doctoral student of ISE , and myself, a Research Fellow of NSE , were the initiators of this project. We have teamed up with some talented web developers take the map live. Now, we are running some machine learning algorithms to analyse the self-reported data.”

 Do you see any risks involved with this type of data collection or visualisation?

“Yes. There are multiple risks involved with risk-map dashboards. There are multiple parallel projects of risk-maps, and some of them are not open source or not willing to collaborate leading to fragmented solutions, each of which may give a partial view of the actual risk map. Privacy is also of paramount importance, yet the COVID-19 outbreak somehow indirectly forced many people to opt-in release their data without really knowing the consequences. Data collection and visualisation solutions should ensure proper anonymization.  

The data shows that, at least so far, a majority of the reports are from healthy people and a relatively smaller portion of COVID-19 tested are willing to self-report, perhaps due to the valid data privacy concern. However, it may lead to a false risk communication to citizens, and the data should be unbiased using official data of public health authorities.”

What do you hope covidmap.se will achieve?

“Together with the team of Professor Carlo Fischione  in NSE, we are developing an app where individuals can use a live hotspot map to choose a safe route for their walk and daily exercise. Combining it with a contact-tracing feature, which we are developing, may lead to valuable datasets. Such data can help analyse the spread of the virus, detect hotspots in the city, and develop smarter containment policies instead of city closure".

Read more about covidmap.se