Dear ICA Colleagues,
I hope that everyone is healthy and safe during these continuing times of uncertainty and viral attacks on our well-being. Many of you are working tirelessly to help in managing the pandemic while others are working toward meaningful observations and data collection and synthesis. Still others are making maps on a variety of topics to help leaders, decision-makers and health providers in their daily challenges to arrest and control this deadly virus and its impacts.
There are more unknowns than knowns. Each day brings revelations while we observe the continued spread with little confidence of safety beyond burrowing in our living quarters or cautiously escaping out into spaces with variable public interactions. We face risk each day and we long for a sense of security for ourselves and our families.
What can we do as a cartographic community to help in responding to this frustrating situation? As we do our work, we are experiencing challenges that defy our efforts to provide what we think is needed to help. The absence of specific data at the needed level of resolution may be one example. Accurate data reflecting the necessary time-stamp might be another. Having effective data at helpful geographic areas to make decisions and manage impacts could be another challenge. We know from health experts that to be safer in our current circumstances there is a need to test, trace and isolate new cases until a vaccine is developed and administered to everyone. In order to accomplish these tasks, what data is needed and at what levels of geography?
We, as cartographers, can contribute to the demands for data and visualization aids during this crisis. Last week I participated in a global virtual meeting of the UN expert group on the integration of statistical and geospatial information. This group was formed collaboratively by the UN Statistical Commission and the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management. The current efforts by this expert group could not be more timely. Tasks associated with challenges in integrating statistical and geospatial information include geocoding, common geographies, interoperability, privacy and confidentiality, and capacity building.
Each one of these topics is an issue of the day as we fight our way through the pandemic battle.
No one person has the perfect solution, but together, as we share information, ideas, experiences, failures and successes, we can take the best approaches as they apply to our circumstances by developing tools, techniques, methodologies, data, and technical solutions that will contribute to arresting the impacts of this virus. This is a call for sharing in a pandemic era.
Let’s use the tools available to us such as articles in the ICA News and eCARTO News, submission of research work in cartography and GIScience to the International Journal of Cartography, updates through social media like Facebook, and engagements with colleagues using the virtual tools that make our connections possible.
Be well and stay safe.
– Tim Trainor
President of the International Cartographic Association