UKHSA to turn Covid data platform into ‘multi-threat dashboard’ for future health emergencies

The pandemic "demonstrated benefits" of keeping citizens informed, UK Health Security Agency says
Photo: CSW

By Sam Trendall

20 Feb 2023

The UK Health Security Agency has begun work to create a permanent “multi-threat dashboard” that could keep the public informed about future health emergencies.

The platform will build on and incorporate components from the Covid-19 dashboard that was first launched in April 2020, during the initial weeks of pandemic to publicise the number of coronavirus cases and vaccination rates across the UK.

Following the completion of a lessons-learned exercise, UKHSA has “identified opportunity to provide this facility in a more strategic mode, with full reuse of components, and for any health threat which might emerge”.

Newly published commercial documents reveal that government’s public-health agency entered into a short-term contract on 10 February for the delivery of the alpha stage of the project – which follows the research-focused discovery phase marks the start of the initial stages of development work. The deal, awarded to Leeds-based transformation consultancy Burendo, is valued at £300,000 and runs until the end of March.

By that point, UKHSA intends to have completed “alpha stage of development on a multi-threat dashboard, which can not only perform all the [existing] functions, but also take over from the existing Covid-19 dashboard in the future, providing the same functionality at a lower cost”.

The contract-award notice added: “The Covid-19 Dashboard was a critical part of the response to the pandemic, demonstrating benefits of providing a service to the public on an ongoing basis.”

More than a million people used the dashboard per day at its peak, including ministers, officials and the general public. The team behind it took home an award from the Royal Statistical Society and Office for Statistics Regulation last year recognising

Judges for the Statistical Excellence in Trustworthiness, Quality and Value Award said the tool was "essential for the entire population and their decision-making during the pandemic".

If the project continues beyond the alpha phase, the next stage is beta – during which a full service is built and launched first for private testing, and then publicly.

The Covid dashboard – which is still running on GOV.UK – provides a wide range data sets and interactive maps and charts, including information on cases, hospitalitations, deaths, tests and vaccinations. Data can be broken down by a wide range of metrics, including dates and demographics.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this article first appeared

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