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From Mapping SARS to COVID-19: Why and How Geography Matters?

[COVID-19 Forum Series] 09 APR 2020 (THU) | 16:00-17:30




This forum will feature speakers showcasing and sharing the stories behind some major GIS and online mapping platforms for COVID-19. Based on the challenges and lessons learnt, especially after SARS, the panel will focus on discussing map design factors concerning general perception, social impact, and policy implications. Key questions include: How to select appropriate dashboard designs? How to deal with variation in spatial scales? How to avoid creating panic in the community? And how to offer information to drive decision making? A 15-minute interactive session will be scheduled at the end of the forum for participants (joining by Zoom) to exchange with panel members.

Panel Members (in alphabetical order)

PROF PC Lai Professor, Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong
PROF Becky PY Loo Head and Professor, Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong (Chair and Convenor)
MR Kelvin Shum Senior Director, Technology & Planning, Esri China (Hong Kong) Limited
DR Paulina Wong Assistant Professor, Science Unit, Lingnan University of Hong Kong


On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization has made “the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic”1. In view of the public health risks, why and how Geography matters? Ever since the famous work of John Snow on tracing the cholera outbreak in London in 1854 through mapping, the importance of understanding the spatial spread of disease and its relationships with the built environment in cities has not diminished. The global transmission of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a harsh reminder of why and how geography matters. Disease spread concerns spatial proximity, transport connectivity and population mobility, taking into account physical barriers between locations and time factor. There is no better way than mapping to capture spatial variations in interaction and segregation to reflect disease movement in space and time. With the availability of modern mapping software and access to frequently-updated disease data, the mapping of major disease outbreaks is getting easier technically. Nonetheless, in order to make good sense of the data available and produce disease maps which are relevant, insightful and useful, solid geographical knowledge and skills are required.


Esri China (Hong Kong Limited)

Geographic/Land Information System (GIS) Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong

Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong


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