Covid 19 (Previously “2019 novel coronavirus”), with its high rate of transmission, has already reached 145 out of 195 countries at the time of writing this article. Though the fatality rate of the disease is low, the exponential growth in the number of infected persons and the contagious nature of it is alarming. As per statements, the vaccine for COVID-19 will take at least 18 months to be made available. As such, the best way to control the disease is to prevent it from spreading.
Use geospatial technology and open data sources to track down the disease. Track yourself and help yourself as well as the health department in controlling the spread. All you need is a smartphone with GPS/GNSS sensor (location sensor) and an opensource app (like OSM Tracker or OSMAnd) which tracks you automatically. The process is simple – you will track your movement in real-time, and later use the data to verify whether you had come across with any infected person once a patient is identified positive to COVID-19. The same data will be of use to the health department to track down possible infected persons if you have been tested positive to COVID-19. You can note points, save pictures, record videos and audios with geotagging using these apps. The notes can be anything you feel noteworthy like accidental or suspicious contacts, places, streets or roads, incidents, names, etc. as waypoints.
How to track ourselves?
All you need to have is a smartphone with location tracking sensor. In this article, I will show you how to track yourselves using an android phone and OSMTracker for Android app. The app is available in Google Play Store and f-droid. However, you can use any app and any phone for tracking like OSMAnd (Google Play Store, F-Droid and Apple App Store), the steps are similar.
Tracking using OSMTracker
Install and start the app, switch on the location/GPS on in your smartphone.
Open settings from the 3 dots icon at the right top of screen.
- Voice record – Select a suitable duration.
- GPS logging interval – 15 seconds to avoid battery drain. 0 seconds for greater accuracy (not recomended).
- Background map – uncheck (for saving data, optional).
- Start tracking by clicking plus icon at the top of the screen.
- Wait till you get the first fix. Please make sure you and mobile are facing an open sky not under any canopy or under any roof. When you see the accuracy on the top bar, you can confirm your fix has achieved.
- Minimise the app and start moving, running it in background. Avoid keeping the mobile inside bags, keep them in pockets or in hand instead so as to increase the accuracy.
- Add text notes, record the videos and audio notes, take photos etc. by using corresponding buttons from the point where you want to note, these will be automatically geotagged.
Saving the tracks
- Choose details option from the long-press menu on the track name.
- Fill the details and on the menu that appears.
- Click on save.
- There are another two options in long press menu: Upload to OpenStreetMap, save as GPX
- You can upload it to OpenStreetMap to visualise your path over OpenStreetMap, or switching on the background layer on the OSM Tracker app.
- You can also save the GPX to your computer and open it in Softwares like QGIS, JOSM or even Google Earth to visualise your paths.
Learn more on OSM Tracker here. Video tutorials are available freely in many languages on YouTube.
Data is never unuseful!
Keep all data safe until the COVID-19 pandemic dies down. Data is always useful – tracked data can later be uploaded (if you are willing to contribute) to Openstreetmap, the collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. The OSM volunteers create maps on OpenStreetMap from your gpx track, or you can yourself can contribute to the collaborative mapping platform for developing a free and quality map data for the world. Before uploading your tracks to OSM please verify whether the information in tracks is already in OpenStreetMap.