• Violence Prevention Alliance

VPA & MGI Develop Data Analytic Software to Address Epidemic


The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) in collaboration with the Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) has developed a data analytic software system, which will assist the country to respond to any emergency such as a major disaster or epidemic.


Dr Deanna Ashley, executive director of the VPA said that the software, known as Systematic Analysis for Emergency Response (SAFER) was developed last year.


“We saw the need to have a system that could integrate respective data as it relates to COVID-19 but we did not want to limit it to COVID-19 so in discussion with the Mona GeoInformatics we came up with this - SAFER, which is a system which integrates data in a quick time to respond to an epidemic,” she informed.


Luke Buchanan, senior project manager at MGI in explaining the system at a VPA Steering Committee meeting recently, said that the software is comprised of crime data, public health data on COVID-19 cases, dengue and violent related injuries.


“It has the ability of presenting a five year pattern for dengue in different communities. It also gives information on available infrastructure. So if you are having a problem with dengue, you can look at how the health centres are distributed, how you are going to respond and what are your assets on the ground,” he explained.


Mr Buchanan said the software can assist with national security as it has information on major crimes and violent related injuries across the country. It also has infrastructural information on the location of the police stations and the Jamaica Defence Force bases.

“SAFER is able to cross-reference crime data with other data such as intervention programmes, security operations, health data, demographic data, education data, traffic and transportation data. The combination of these data allow for the better policing,” said Buchanan.

The senior project manager at MGI noted that with the assistance of the data from SAFER, the security force will be able to work more efficiently and achieve greater levels of success that will ultimately assist with response planning, crime prevention and risk assessment.

“So if you want to do an intervention in a particular community, with a political orientation and socio economic background, you have that information so you plan for the best solution to assist that community,” he said.


Mr Buchanan noted that some of the advantages of SAFER are that it allows the user to focus on a particular area such as crime, where you can do monitoring and evaluation. The system allows for rapid integration of additional and supplemental data such as the adding of the location of churches to the system, among other information.


Another advantage of the system is that it allows for cross sectoral benefits. “The health professionals will be interested in health data but how does crime impact the work that you are trying to do with health? If you want to distribute medication for example, is there going to be a situation where there is certain areas of the community that you can’t go because of crime? The system allows you to visualize the different types of data across the different sectors,” he explained.


The Systematic Analysis for Emergency Response was developed with funding from Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.


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Violence Prevention Alliance| Institute for Sustainable Development|3 Gibraltar Camp Way| UWI, Mona| Kingston 7|Tele/fax: 702-2079| lEmail:vpajamaica@gmail.com | Cell: 363-1726, August 17, 2022


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