NSW has become the first state or territory government to release an official coronavirus heat map that pinpoints historical and active coronavirus cases by postcode.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian launched the interactive map on Friday morning, as the state’s first coronavirus lockdown measures were lifted, to help inform the community about local cases
The heat map, which is compiled from de-identified NSW Health data, shows the number of historical and active cases, how many people have recovered and the number of completed tests.
The cumulative number of cases is displayed using shades of yellow and green, while shades of pink and purple are used to show the number of tests completed.
Active cases, which NSW stress aren't necessarily still infectious, are determined by a "calculation based on total cases excluding persons recovered and lives lost" in the system of case follow up.
The tool, which has been built by NSW's Data Analytics Centre, also shows how cumulative cases and testing ranges have changed since March 25, as well as information on population density.
NSW Health had previously worked with researchers from the University of Sydney to create a searchable public database showing COVID-19 cases on a postcode-by-postcode basis.
But that map displays only historical cases and time since the last reported, not those that are active, meaning it is of limited use to the public looking to determine active hotspots.
It is, however, useful to inform pandemic policy responses, as it uses age and socio-economic status of people in different postcodes from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Berejiklian said NSW's new heat map, which is hosted on Microsoft Azure, will help the community digest testing and recovery rates, and why efforts have been focused in particular areas.
“This new way of showing NSW Health data will help communities understand the numbers of people being tested, and encourage more people with symptoms to come forward for testing when they see the impact COVID-19 is having on their local area,” she said.
“It also provides encouraging data showing how people are bouncing back from the virus.”
The heat map builds on NSW existing COVID-19 data dashboard, which has provided information on the number of confirmed cases, including by date and age group, the number of deaths and testing rates.
“Providing these heat maps to the public makes NSW a leader in the delivery of live information about COVID-19,” Customer service minister Victor Dominello said.
Victoria has also released a similar heat map, built using Microsoft PowerBI, in recent weeks, however data is limited to the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases by local government area.