From the very beginning of the COVID crisis it was clear that sooner or later the epidemic will enter a phase where the virus spread will become highly heterogeneous across different regions in Austria. Our project aim was to develop a visualization system in close collaboration with the Austrian Association of General Practitioners that they can use to assess the risk of seeing infected patients in their offices.
Therefore, we collected regional information on infection numbers, available physicians and patients in high-risk groups and developed an online visualization tool to make these numbers easily accessible. After we changed the title of this system from “daily corona situation reports” to “corona traffic light”, little did we know the reach and attention that this system would achieve in Austria going far beyond physicians as the attended audience. These developments further intensified when the Austrian government decided to implement such a traffic light officially for Austria. Due to this huge interest in our work, we continually improved the system to include all countries world-wide, European regions on finer detail, and combined these efforts with the construction of a dataset to also track the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions across different countries.
The resulting analyses of how different interventions impact on the infection numbers were recently published in Nature Human Behaviour and resulted in worldwide media coverage and a joint press conference with members of the Austrian government.