The creator of the CovidTracker site, Guillaume Rozier, has given up his own exclusive access to vaccination data to remind people that it is not for him to relay this precious information: it must be accessible, every day, to everyone the world.
How many people have received the coronavirus vaccine in France? It is very difficult, at the start of 2021, to get a precise answer to this question on a daily basis. The government does give the figures, but mainly at press conferences. These data are not freely accessible, with daily publication, as is the case with the number of positive cases or screening tests. Since the start of the campaign, the CovidTracker site has been trying to depict the quantified situation as often as possible, using data that the ministry then transmitted exclusively to Guillaume Rozier, founder of the site, the only place where we could regularly find the most up-to-date statistics.
However, on the morning of Monday January 11, Guillaume Rozier announced on his Twitter account that it will no longer rely on this first-hand information. In order to defend an open data model, CovidTracker will now rely only on officially published data, that is to say very parsimonious data, because France has not yet adopted an open data strategy concerning the figures of the vaccination. Contacted by Numerama, Guillaume Rozier explained his approach in more detail.
The interest of open data to give meaning
France remains rather good student in open data over the pandemic, reminds us during the conversation the creator of CovidTracker. ” I’m not complaining: we have relatively complete data, with the essentials, in a transparent, reliable, daily way: the tests, the number of cases by age group, by department, by region … all this on data.gouv , an official site. “All is not perfect, however, notes Guillaume Rozier. He never succeeded in obtaining the share of antigenic tests and the share of PCR tests in the positivity rate, for example, when this information exists, and the two screens do not have the same reliability. Transparency is therefore not perfect, there are elements to be improved, but it remains overall on the main indicators.
It is therefore all the more damaging that this transparency does not apply to vaccine statistics. Because open data is useful in times of pandemic. Free access to data allows the statistical community to overcome what the State does not do, namely ” offer data visualization, tools that add meaning », Guillaume Rozier tells us. These are important benchmarks during a health crisis, during which the population may feel overwhelmed by the influx of information. This meaning ” is free “, Points out Guillaume Rozier, because in this type of digital, independent activity, the data community is neither paid by the government nor linked to it. A form of informal exchange is taking place.
Example of an analysis tool on VaccinTracker, the vaccine campaign monitoring app created by Guillaume Rozier. // Source: CovidTracker
However, there is one thing these statisticians clearly cannot do: collect the information they interpret. They need the government to release them first. ” No one other than the state can collect the data, so without open data, no one can do anything. It is also and above all for this reason that Guillaume Rozier no longer wanted to distribute the data exclusively: to avoid that in the long term, this generates ambiguity. He wanted to keep his analytical independence. Since he is not involved in their collection, ” it is not for me to publish them, I am not responsible for them », He insists. ” They should be public, accessible to all. »
The VAC-SI database is stabilized
Today, open data for vaccination figures would be technically possible, since the VAC-SI database was made operational on January 4, 2021. ” VAC-SI is stabilized, open data is ready, so if it’s not in place, it’s a political decision », Notes Guillaume Rozier. However, the government explains the absence of open data by technical constraints: it takes time to set up without risking computer hazards. An obstacle that the creator of CovidTracker understands as a computer engineer himself, but which would however be surpassable according to him.
« I’m not asking for perfect open data from day one, tempers Guillaume Rozier with Numerama, I’m just asking for a publication of the data: a tweet, or even a simple Excel file published on the government site… but that it be public, because they have an estimate of the number of people vaccinated per day. »
CovidTracker’s decision to no longer use its own exclusive access is therefore part of a peaceful – but committed – message sent to the government: for the common good, vaccination data must be freely accessible, like all other data, most quickly possible.
Photo credit of the one:
Markus Spiske / Unsplash
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