Announcing The COVID-19 Testing Map

COVID 19 MapToday we are launching a crowdsourced map to help people document their experiences when seeking COVID-19 testing — were they able to get a test when they sought one, or not. One of Safecast’s founding beliefs is that people should have access to reliable and accurate information in order to make decisions about their own safety and that of their friends and families. We began to publish crowdsourced radiation and air quality data in order to provide an independent and credible source of information about these risks. COVID-19 is already having devastating impacts on communities around the world. People need to prepare for what’s coming and need good information to do that. We also believe they should have easy access to testing options to give reassurances about their own health and safety, and to help them make better decisions during this global emergency.

Currently, however, in many places around the world, official COVID-19 testing information is ambiguous and incomplete, and people are dependent on single sources of official information which may be neither relevant nor trustworthy. Due to the failure of test kits to arrive where needed, delivery of incomplete test kits, overly complicated approval processes, or favoritism and discrimination, it has become apparent that there is a gap between the availability of testing claimed by some governments and what is actually available. This is disturbingly reminiscent of what we saw after 3/11, which we’ve written about in more detail here. With the help and input of people around the world, this map will hopefully begin to provide a more accurate picture of the relative difficulty of obtaining testing in various locales. It’s our hope that by providing an alternative source of credible crowdsourced information, this map will become a useful tool with which to better target resources and hold governments and officials accountable.

The map can be found at covid19map.safecast.org

(We’ve talked a bit more about the motivations for creating this map and the stories we’re seeing come from it here.)

How to use this map:

  1. In the menu/navigation you will see options for “Refused Testing” “Testing Unavailable” and “Successfully Tested” which correspond to colored markers on the map. You can turn any of these markers on or off to get a clearer view.
  2. You can zoom in or out by clicking the map, or use the search to find specific locations.
  3. Selecting an individual point on the map will show you the specific details of that situation.
  4. To protect the privacy of contributors, locations shown on this map are obfuscated to within 10 km.
  5. To contribute your experience, please select the yellow + icon and then choose the option that best reflects your situation. A short survey will guide you through the details needed.
  6. All contributions are put into the public domain.
  7. For this map to most useful, we need as many people as possible to contribute their experiences – if you know someone else who has also been tested or has made attempts to get tested, please send them this map and ask them to consider contributing.

Caveats:

  • As all contributions to this map are crowd sourced, it would be impossible for us to guarantee the validity of any information and make no assurances as such. This map is provided as supplemental information only.
  • The survey options might not apply to every person, this is by design. We are not trying to create a map of people who aren’t feeling well or think they might be sick as there are a number of symptom maps being run by medical professionals who are much better equipped to process that kind of information. The purpose of this map is to highlight the disparity between the number of people who are getting tested, the number of people who are unable to get tested despite attempts, and how these numbers compare against official “tested” numbers being published by governments.

As this situation continues to evolve, we anticipate updating and adjusting this map as well as the data we collect and display. For resources and other information about Safecast’s efforts surrounding COVID-19, please see this page.

* A special thank you to our friends at Ushahidi for providing the open source software platform we are using this map. If you find a bug or would like to help improve the software for everyone who uses it please see Ushahidi’s contribution guidelines, if you find an error or want to fix something on our installation of it please use this github repository.