Microsoft has released a new interactive Bing map that provides information on the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The map shows the number of cases per country, broken down by the number of currently active cases, recovered cases, and fatal cases. In the United States, you can view state-to-state information. By selecting individual countries or states, links to relevant news and videos are provided. Unfortunately, the stories advertised are not always the most current or useful to understand the current state of the pandemic that is developing.
According to Microsoft, the tool gets data from a collection of sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and Wikipedia. The tool itself does not indicate how often its numbers are updated, but at the time of publication we found that the data had been updated in the last hour.
In the UK, the tool appeared in an old video claiming there were no cases in the country.
Although the number of cases the tool retrieves matches those published by the WHO, Microsoft's COVID-19 tracker appears to be struggling to find relevant news. For example, when we tried to check news relevant to the UK outbreak, there were a number of hardware stores that were closing in France and Spain. Even stranger, the main video was an old January 24 news segment titled "No confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK," even though the tracker listed 1,391 cases in the country.
In the Netherlands, the latest article on the Dutch map (as seen from the Netherlands) is two weeks old, although the country's government made the important decision yesterday to close public places such as restaurants and schools.
Microsoft is not the only technology giant that wants to provide information resources amid the pandemic. Google has announced that it will launch a website "late Monday" with information about the outbreak, including information on preventing spread and links to local resources. Information on the new type of corona virus is provided on its homepage as well as on YouTube and maps. The company is also launching a limited coronavirus screening website that is currently only available to people in the Bay Area of California, as opposed to the nationwide service that the U.S. government proposed on Friday.