Epidemics must now be prepared for by developing data collection, processing and more transparent use.
Last days again, there has been talk of the importance of movement restrictions in reducing contact. However, the critical variable is not movement but information.
If we had complete information, only two measures would be needed to eradicate the disease by June. First, all those infected within three weeks, or about 10,000 people, should be isolated. Second, no contagious would be released across the country’s borders. In theory, then, 99.8 percent of Finns could soon move to a normal life.
Of course, we may not have complete information, but a comparison with it reveals the current problems and the value of a good snapshot and its effective use in taking targeted action.
Open Knowledge Finland ry has made numerous requests for information in order to obtain the epidemic models used by the government. The results have been meager.
Thus, it has relied on the descriptions of experts. It has not been possible to study or comment on the details, nor to test our own scenarios. External experts have not had a useful discussion. Models have not been co-developed.
The epidemic model could be available online for use by both ministry and municipal officials and decision-makers. As this is not the case, the City of Turku developed its own model to support its measures.
Valuable information is lost anyway. People could, on their own, record more information about their symptoms and contacts in a nationwide system that would automatically provide individualized guidelines and inject them into the desired activity. This and health data should be used to continuously update the epidemic model so that it can better answer questions related to control measures.
Data problems will not disappear even if the coronavirus epidemic is brought under control. Epidemics must now be prepared for by developing data collection, processing and more transparent use. These improvements need to be made to policies and laws quickly.
Chairman, Open Knowledge Finland ry
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