How Africans Can Leverage Location-Based Technology in Tracking the Coronavirus and Locusts Pandemic

Location-based technology
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Emerging technologies such as the location-based technology, can be used to track the current disasters in Africa. These disasters include the locust invasion that started late last year in some parts of East Africa. Just before the Governments and responsible stakeholders could find a solution, the Covid-19 Coronavirus struck in Wuhan China. Within a short time, more than 50 countries all over the world have reported cases of the virus. More than 8000 people have died globally as a result of the infection. As China seems to be taking control of the virus, Italy appears to be taking it pretty hard. The virus has appeared in African countries such as;

  • Kenya – 7 cases
  • Morocco – 44 cases and one death
  • Namibia – 2 cases
  • South Africa – 116 cases
  • Rwanda – 11 cases
  • Senegal – 37 cases

Most countries in Africa are developing countries, with high levels of poverty. This fact means that they are more vulnerable to such disasters compared to more developed countries. However, they can take this opportunity to leverage the available technologies to track these two pandemics. This can ensure that they have the upper hand. One of the leading techniques they can use includes location-based technologies. This includes the use of GPS (Global Positioning System), Satellite Imagery, Users personal data, Data Science, and real-time mapping.

The use of location-based technology in tracking the Locusts invasion

Locusts are not new; they have been invading most regions now and then. However, the recent locust invasion was the worst that the world has seen in many decades. Initially, tracking of locusts was done manually by survey officers. They would go to the affected regions, collect data by filling out forms and send it to the headquarters through email, or through Fax. The data from the offices would then be forwarded to FAO. This process took too long, and it was no match to the locusts, which can cover up to 150 Kilometers per day. FAO introduced better technology where they use GPS and portable computers. It first came as eLocust1, but it was later upgraded to eLocust3 in 2014.

This technology enables FAO to detect locust invasions, as well as to detect areas that could be breeding grounds for locusts. GPS is the ideal choice for this early warning system since it gives the exact coordinates of the identified regions. With this technology, FAO can warn countries, and inform donors about the areas that are likely to experience the invasion. Better yet, these devices connect to satellites; this allows the surveyors to send the data to DLIS (Desert Locust Information Service) headquarters in Rome in real-time.

It can also work in the most remote areas since it doesn’t require an internet connection. GIS (Geography Information System) is then used to create thematic maps based on greenness, and based on rainfall data. There is a relationship between climatic conditions and the locust invasion. These maps are essential in decision making. This technology has been successful over the years. East Africa, where this invasion is worse, should take advantage and leverage this technology in minimizing the potential loss caused by the locust invasion.

The Use of Location-based Technology in Tracking Coronavirus

Location-based technology has been used to track the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak spread in various countries. This system gets its data from control centres all over the world. Some of the data include Countries that have confirmed the Coronavirus, the number of cases confirmed, and the number of deaths approved, and the number of patients released. This data is then visualized through a GIS (Geographic/Graphic Information System) that updates in real-time. ESRI, a giant company in the Geospatial technology realm, provides this platform.

Location data can also help to monitor the spread of the virus by tracking smartphone users who agree to share their data. This can help them make sure people are maintaining safe distances from each other. The data gathered from smartphone users enable them to predict the areas that are likely to have an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

Conclusion

From the looks of it, location-based technology helps in developing maps that aid in predicting the outbreak of disasters. This tech is great for creating early warning systems. There may be concerns about the credibility of the data collected by some of the agencies. But for the most part, this technology has been successful. Since these two disasters are trending in Africa at the moment, the various stakeholders should invest in them and reduce their vulnerability to these disasters.

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Climate Change is likely to be causing the Locust Invasion

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