Another small hackathon

After the first RECON hackfest which was dedicated to graphical user interfaces earlier this year, we repeated the experiment: bring a few hand-picked experts together, lock them in a room with sufficient food and coffee supply, put a lid on, let the mix simmer, and collect outcomes after a few days. This time around, we focused on mapping epidemics.

What have we done?

Maps. Of various types. When it comes to mapping infectious disease data, we realised not a single map fits all purposes. Rather, different types of maps can be used in different contexts: to show individual cases clustering district-wise incidence, spatio-temporal patterns, or even flows of travellers between locations. For most of these, existing packages offer excellent solutions, so that rather than making redundant tools, we chose to illustrate how to use the existing ones. It resulted in the new website GIS first aid which contains gists of code for various types of maps. This platform is still under development, with the aim to facilitate further contributions from the community.

[sneak peek of GISfirstaid; click here for the full website ]

We also created two new packages to address specific needs:

  • epimaps: a collection of wrappers and helpers to facilitate mapping infectious diseases

  • epiflows: new classes and methods for storing, handling and plotting traveller flows

Both of these are still under development, but already contain some functional features. Check for instance Isobel Blake’s article on combining incidence objects and shapefiles to produce maps time series.

How to contribute?

GIS first aid has been designed as a contributed website. If you have some experience with github and Rmarkdown, contributing should be very easy – merely a pull request after adding your own article(s).

More information on this on our github page.