Visual Analytics for Explaining and Analysing Contact Tracing Networks

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Science


Contact tracing networks carry invaluable information for researchers to understand the spread of the virus, for policy-makers to control the COVID-19 outbreak, and for the government and the media in informing the public in rich ways. However, current data science tools fall short for the exploratory and explanatory analysis of the temporal, spatial and social aspects of these networks, and little is known on how most effectively the results of such analyses can be communicated broadly. This lack of a toolbox leads to organisations wasting resources on developing partial solutions designed without broad stakeholder engagement. To this end, this project aims to follow a user-centred approach to develop visual analytics methods for the analysis of large collections of contact tracing networks along with techniques for the communication of analysis results in transparent, comprehensive, yet engaging ways. Contact networks come with noteworthy technical and ethical challenges: inherent uncertainties due to the variation in their generation mechanisms, e.g., apps, hospital records, by volunteers; and high volumes of complex and sensitive information represented as event-based interactions with spatio-temporal facets. This project responds to these challenges through two deliverables comprising visualisation methods working simultaneously at group and individual levels while communicating the general trends in the spread:

1. Visualisations aimed at experts for understanding collections of contact networks to inform public health policies and make in-depth investigations without compromising individuals' privacy.

2. Visualisations for communicating analysis results with the general public for information and evidencing policy recommendations with representations having a purely explanatory emphasis.


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Baumgartl T (2021) In Search of Patient Zero: Visual Analytics of Pathogen Transmission Pathways in Hospitals. in IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics

Description Early engagement with the SCRC has provided some results on effective visualisation methods for event-based contact tracing networks:

We continue to study effective visualisation methods for contact tracing networks and hope to have software and studies that help support visualisation effectiveness.
Exploitation Route The grant is currently in its early stages. This information will become clear over the coming months.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare

Description We are in the process of integrating a variety of visualisation approaches into contact tracing simulations associated with the SCRC. At this point, the approaches have been used to visualise the results of policy simulations in order to validate parameters and compare some scenarios.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare
Impact Types Societal

Description Welsh Government Sêr Cymru III
Amount £107,010 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Wales 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2020 
End 03/2021