Lake Country student develops interactive map that tracks coronavirus cases worldwide | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lake Country student develops interactive map that tracks coronavirus cases worldwide

Sean Heddle has created an interactive map to track the spread of coronavirus for an Okanagan College assignment.
February 09, 2020 - 6:30 AM

Sean Heddle spends roughly 10 hours a day plugging in the latest data on coronavirus cases around the world into a real-time map.

The Okanagan College student started collecting the data for a project while staying in Salmon Arm. He is currently enrolled in a Geographic Information Systems Certificate course at the college. His professor, Shelley Desautels, recently issued an assignment inviting students to build a digital map of a place or topic of their choosing, according to a college news release.

But Heddle didn’t want to do the bare minimum, he wanted to explore something that had an impact. He created an interactive map of the spread of Novel Coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, Dec. 31.

“It was just to have a unique project,” he said. “I wanted to do something neat and relevant.”

Heddle said he has roughly 275,000 views of the map as of Feb. 8. More than 700 people have died and 35,000 cases have been reported of the virus worldwide, according to his map.

A screenshot showing recent cases from Sean Heddle's coronavirus map.
A screenshot showing recent cases from Sean Heddle's coronavirus map.

“It does take a bit of a toll, watching the numbers grow and grow by day and some of the smaller provinces in China that started off with 20 cases, 30 cases have just now rolled over into triple digits. It’s sad that it’s spreading and the containment isn’t there yet,” he said.

Heddle is already ready to take the project to the next level and said it’s become larger than a school assignment.

READ MORE: Two more presumptive cases of the coronavirus in British Columbia

Next he plans to add layouts of where the airports are around the world and track the spread patterns for the program’s next project, “just to draw it out visually and ask how this (could) go so far away from the source so quickly,” he said.

“I want to start showing movement and containment and my emphasis is on telling a story. Hopefully, someone smarter than me, a doctor or scientist, will look at it and go ‘this is what has to happen’ to contain it.”

When he’s not at school, he’s updating the map in his hotel room, on a large TV screen he’s taken from his home in Oyama. The course is about six months long so Heddle splits his time between the Shuswap and Central Okanagan. He doesn’t yet know where he’s headed after completing the course.

“I’d love to stay local, but I need to work,” he said.

A former construction foreman who is in the middle of a career change after an injury, Heddle also manages a freelance media company called 5iveby5ive media and donates his BEES NEEZ, an all-natural Okanagan bee wax paw and snout balm, to homeless individuals with pets.


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