Sean Heddle’s interactive map shows users where the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus are. (Sean Heddle)

Okanagan man’s interactive map shows coronavirus spread

Sean Heddle initially created the map for a school project

A Kelowna resident has created an interactive map that shows where the novel coronavirus has been confirmed in the world.

Sean Heddle’s map also shows the number of people who have died from the infection and how many have recovered.

He said he made the map as a project for his advanced geographic information systems (GIS) class at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus.

“We were supposed to pick from the options our instructor provided, but I decided to branch off and do something that interested me and it was kinda relevant since it’s happening now and it’s a global epidemic,” Heddle said.

He said he used data from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Johns Hopkins Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE).

“I found the data and I stayed up until 3 a.m. the first night and the next morning, it was up and going,” he said.

While the map is useful, he said it’s been difficult to keep up to date because he has manually update it each time a new case pops up.

READ MORE: Kelowna medical supply shop sold out of surgical masks amid coronavirus panic

“As much as I’d like to keep updating it live, I still have to do school. I’m sacrificing sleep because it’s a very slow process as I have to go through an attribute table, and change each cell to sync up with real-time data.”

“It’s very time-consuming. This was a one day project: you hand it in and you get your mark on it, but I’m staying with it as long as I can,” he said.

Heddle said he’s concerned with the spread of the virus, especially to Canada, so he plans to look for more data on suspected cases and include them in the map using a specific legend for it.

“That’s my next step, to enter those values and to track the pattern of the spread, which could be powerful because it will have the ability to show you the extent of the global crisis and paint the picture for you, especially since it’s a tactile thing where you can zoom in and really see it.”

He said he’s got a range of feedback on the map since he shared it on social media.

“The feedback has been good, unless someone doesn’t care and they think it’ll never affect them here in Canada.”

“But some people just want to troll you and I just don’t engage with that. I have full-time school, I live in a hotel when I go to school and I have to take care of my dog, so my days are pretty full.”

Heddle said he couldn’t have created the map without his instructor, Shelley Desautels, who has taught him everything he knows about GIS.

READ MORE: B.C. asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ when screening for coronavirus

READ MORE: B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

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