MGI and COVID-19 Response

18 May, 2020


(From left) MGI Director, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr, Brigadier Radgh Mason from the Jamaica Defence Force, President of the PSOJ Keith Duncan, Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, and Chairman of the Council for Voluntary Social Services Saffrey Brown pictured at the launch of the PSOJ COVID-19 Response Fund.

Data is critical to the management of the COVID-19 global pandemic for every country. In Jamaica, the Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus has been supporting efforts of the Government using data as the country navigates the allocation of resources to slow and stop the spread of the corona virus.

Applying its vast Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database MGI advise various entities on their particular risks and how to plan their activities and initiatives accordingly.

MGI, Data and Vulnerable Communities

MGI mapped all diabetics and hypertensives from the National Health Fund (NHF) database, as well as all Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) beneficiaries, registrants with the Jamaica Council for Disabled Persons (JCDP) and the National Insurance Scheme's (NIS) pensioner database. These were used in conjunction with other existing data to look at the distribution of vulnerable people across Jamaica, both individually and collectively.

Presentations of the results of the models were shared with both the Cabinet and a special COVID-19 sub-committee of Parliament, as well as a special vulnerable communities sub-committee of the Ministry of Health and Wellness's COVID-19 Task Force.

MGI's Director, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr, noted that the location information the models presented allowed for the development of targeted social programs and public education, tailor-made for each community, recognizing the inherent differences present across communities in Jamaica. "a one-size-fits-all solution won't work when it comes to realities of social distancing in poor and densely populated communities with certain concentrations of the elderly, disabled, diabetics and hypertensives".

MGI Models economic effect of COVID for PSOJ's COVID Relief Fund

The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), in developing its COVID-19 Relief Fund, is seeking to raise $250M to assist the most vulnerable communities in Jamaica by providing food and care packages, tapped MGI to refine this model to account for the dynamic changes that would be affecting communities.

"We were able to build scenarios that accounted for the effects of closures of hotels on employment in tourism communities, and to see the domino effects on unemployment, poverty and crime, "Dr Lyew-Ayee Jr shared.

"We also created a comprehensive composite model to incorporate over 20 different variables at once, with over 20,000 different combinations of results across Jamaica. Once completed, MGI isolated the top 25 communities by these composite vulnerability scores, and the PSOJ's other partners, such as the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), could determine the operational logistics of supplying packages to those communities. It is decidedly data-driven and non-subjective," he said.

MGI involved many other stakeholders and show them any community of interest and probe its different vulnerability characteristics. The most interesting part of all this was how well the models lined up with the actual COVID-19 case realities.

Speaking at the Launch, Saffrey Brown, Chair of the Council for Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) and Project Manager for the PSOJ COVID-19 Jamaica Response Fund. "In developing an integrated national response to the COVID-19 crisis in Jamaica, we needed to ensure that we were able to provide aid to the most at-risk communities. MGI was able to work with our team, to develop and implement a model for risk profiling communities during the time of COVID. This has ensured that our response is targeted and focused."

Giving his concluding remarks at the Launch, President of the PSOJ, Keith Duncan noted that, "The research and data driven analysis provided by Mona GeoInformatics Institute was critical to the integrity and efficacy of the reach of the PSOJ COVID19 Jamaica Response Fund. The models developed by MGI ensure that we are impacting those Jamaicans who are most vulnerable due to COVID19. Their involvement also underscores the benefit of taking an inclusive and multisectoral approach to tackle complex national issues. The PSOJ is pleased to have worked with MGI on this integrated national response to COVID19 and commend the work they have done."