The Weather Channel and its parent company IBM (yep, who knew?) have teamed up to bring coronavirus data, maps and charts to your phone. They're importing data from sources like the World Health Organization (WHO), and including info from reliable local and state sources, so you can get a picture of how the virus is spreading near you, across the country and around the globe.
This new coronavirus tracking will be available in The Weather Channel iOS and Android apps, on weather.com/coronavirus and in an online dashboard. The offerings include AI-powered "Incident Maps," which show stats like confirmed COVID-19 cases by US state and county, and trend graphs that show spread by US state. There are links to the latest news and videos from The Weather Channel team, and when possible, there are additional details including public health information, like locations of testing centers.
The Weather Channel probably isn't the first source you think of for COVID-19 updates, but given that it already turns heaps of global data into maps and dashboards, it's well-prepared to provide this kind of data and analytics. The tools run on the IBM public cloud and use IBM Watson to access and analyze data -- IBM already relies Watson to warn users about flu outbreaks.
"We feel it's critical to provide the most trusted information currently available to help people stay informed on the reach of COVID-19... so you can see why social distancing matters in your community and why it's important to heed instructions from your local, state and national resources," said Cameron Clayton, general manager of IBM's The Weather Company.
This isn't the only creative way apps are helping to spread reliable info. Last week, WhatsApp and the WHO created a chatbot to provide the latest stats and answer users' questions -- the WHO joined TikTok to help set the record straight. And Facebook is attempting to connect its Messenger developers with government organizations to create apps and bots that will share COVID-19 updates. IBM and The Weather Channel have a unique advantage in that they're able to share local and regional data, as well as national and global stats.