Cranfield University student creates Nigerian Covid-19 map using ‘technology that can serve humanity’

Nnenna Nkata
Nnenna Nkata of Cranfield University

A student from Cranfield University in the UK has created a dashboard giving vital up-to-date information on the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Nnenna Nkata, 27, is from Abia State in Nigeria and is studying for an MSc in Geographical Information Management at Cranfield.

The dashboard formed part of the work for one of her course modules and inspired her to create something for her country which is now in public use.

The dashboard shows the extent and development of COVID-19 in Nigeria localised to state level and, as an online tool, it automatically updates with the latest information.

It took Nnenna a week to create the dashboard, integrating information from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

She said, “Data is power, and my motivation is to create useful tools with technology that can serve humanity.

“I could see that people in Nigeria were not aware of the spread of Coronavirus and took the opportunity to do this dashboard so they can access up to date information about their state.”

Nnenna was inspired to pursue a career in information technology after taking a job as a computer hardware technician after High School.

She went on to study Information Technology at Accra Institute of Technology and then worked for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency before joining USAID SENSE project as a Senior Information Technology Assistant all in collaboration with American University of Nigeria.

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Nnenna won a Commonweath Shared Scholarship place to study at Cranfield University and is still based at the campus.

“My work in the humanitarian sector showed me that there is a real lack of information and data about people, geography and area maps,” she said.

“I chose Cranfield to develop skills that I can use in this area, as the course is structured in such a way to make it easy for someone without prior knowledge to migrate to. I have learned so much, beyond my expectations.”

Dr Daniel Simms, Lecturer in Remote Sensing and Course Director for the MSc in Geographical Information Management at Cranfield University, said, “It’s great to see Nnenna using the skills she has learnt at Cranfield to get timely and useful information out there, where it can hopefully make a real difference.”

As well as giving a visual representation of the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the dashboard also shows information on deaths across Africa and cases in West Africa.

The dashboard has garnered a lot of interest from Nigerian organisations and Nnenna is now in contact with groups who are keen for her to develop an equivalent design for Africa as a whole.

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