By now, you would literally have to be living under a rock if you have not heard about the Coronavirus. But, before most of us had read or heard about the virus, a teen named Avi Schiffman was tracking it closely. When the high school junior, 17, who lives near Seattle, learned of the mystery virus spreading in China, he decided to build a website that would monitor cases and provide facts about it.
TODAY Parents wrote about Schiffmann a few days ago. The 17-year-old is a self-taught coder who participates in hackathons and hopes to “create something really big” one day — created a program that updates these numbers every 10 minutes. While the data updates automatically, he devotes about six hours a day to improving the site.
“I thought it would be cool if there was a website that could pull in all the information from all kinds of (sources),” he told TODAY Parents. “I mainly wanted to create something that would show the data as accurately as possible because there has been a lot of misinformation.”
The site collects data from various sources, such as local health departments, and cross checks the data with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dashboard includes quick facts, including total number of confirmed cases, number of confirmed cases outside China, number of deaths, number of people recovered and total countries with coronavirus.
“I’m always adding new features. It’s going to adapt as it goes along,” he explained. “In the future it might be less interesting to know there are five cases in France. We might be more interested in knowing the percentage increase from last week to this week.”
“I thought it would be cool if we could have the numbers of those who recovered,” he said. “It shows that it is not all negative. The recovery number is big.”
And, he expects to have a table with cases from every U.S. state and a vaccine tracker in the near future. He’s able to keep working on it thanks to donations. (A button at the top of the site allows people to buy him a coffee.)
While it is easy to feel panicked or focus on negatives, Schiffmann said, he enjoys hearing how his site is helping other people.
“Most of my emails are really cool. One of my favorite emails was this guy that was traveling in Beijing and he got quarantined there and he emailed me saying how he used my site all the time to get information,” Schiffmann said. “There are a lot of people who use my website if they are going to travel and they want to know if they are going to be safe. It is really neat to see all that stuff.”
(Source: Meghan Holohan, Today.com)
Project B3 thinks it is incredible to hear of a teen who saw a need and created a website to give people around the world the critical information that they were looking for. We all know how detrimental misinformation on the internet can be and how quickly it can spread. It was brilliant for Avi to build a website that updates every ten minutes with accurate information that is pulled from various, reliable sources that the public can look to for valuable information while news of the Coronavirus continues to spread.