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Kontaktkutatás, vezetői információs rendszer

Contact tracing, management support system

Scientia et Securitas
Authors: Eszter Bokányi, Péter Pollner, and Tamás Joó

Összefoglaló. Tanulmányunkban bemutatjuk a hazai COVID-járvány első hulláma során kidolgozott informatikai megoldást, amely a kontaktkutatást hálózattudományi megközelítés alapján segítette, és hozzájárult az első hullám sikeres megfékezéséhez.

A kifejlesztett vizuális reprezentációs technika látványos és részletekbe menő megértést, problémafeltárást képes biztosítani a járványügyi szakemberek számára. A grafikus elemek segítenek a gyors megértésben, a különböző hálózati elrendezések bizonyos jelenségekre, például gócpontokra, fertőzési klikkekre vagy a földrajzi terjedésre irányíthatják a figyelmet. A böngészőből történő futtatás alacsony technológiai belépési küszöböt biztosít a társterületeken kutatók számára, nekik így nem szükséges a problémafeltáráshoz külön szoftvereket telepíteni. Az adatbázis SQL-alapú szűrése a vizualizációs felületről lehetőséget biztosít összetettebb kérdések megfogalmazására is.

Summary. In our study, we present an IT solution developed during the first wave of the domestic COVID epidemic. This tool served as an aid for contact tracing. The development focused on the network scientific aspects and contributed to the successful handling of the first wave.

In case of absence of effective drugs or vaccines, controlling a contagious disease can only be achieved by preventing its spread. To this end

  • infectious individuals must be identified,

  • patients, exposed to the infection must be identified,

  • the epidemic branching points that cause the greatest infection must be uncovered,

  • information on the course of the disease must be collected,

  • temporal and efficacy parameters must be determined, and

  • potential cases of infection must be described.

One possible way to accomplish these tasks is achieved by contact tracing. Classical contact tracing is carried out by personal data collection, during which the commissioned epidemiologist has to fill in a questionnaire. The questionnaire basically includes data used to identify the infected person, as well as the data of the persons who were in contact with the infected person, i.e. in contact with them. The effectiveness of the research is also enhanced if the questionnaire records disease-related parameters (e.g., symptoms, timing-related times, etc.) as well. Once the disease is known, questionnaires can be designed according to a definite template format, the organization of data collection groups and the associated costs can be planned in advance. However, in the case of a new, unknown disease, flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly during data collection are of paramount importance.

The developed visual representation technique is able to provide spectacular and detailed understanding and a problem-solving user interface for epidemiologists. Graphical elements help in quick understanding, different network layouts can direct the attention to certain phenomena such as focal points, infectious cliques, or geographical spreading patterns. Running from a browser provides a low technology entry threshold for researchers in other scientific fields, so they don’t need to install separate software. The SQL-based filtering of the database on the visualization interface also provides an opportunity to study more complex questions.

Thus, with the help of the presented computer system, a relational database can be generated from the initially unstructured data of the contact research protocols through several steps. The relational database is made available to analysts and decision-makers.

As the final balance of the first wave of COVID-19 in Hungary showed, data from well-organized contact research and processed in appropriate analytical tools can provide important information for controlling the epidemic and saving lives.

Open access