What seemed like a very minor point in the Prime Minister’s address to the country on Monday might have been a little more important than it is being given credit for. The announcement of setting up an information cell to collect data on the coronavirus and where it is going is one that might make a substantial difference in our fight against the coronavirus. How many more cases will be expected and in what frequency will be under the purview of this data cell, which is why setting it up immediately is a smart move by the Prime Minister’s office.

The Sindh government has had ideas along similar lines, as revealed by the reports of the provincial authorities. It is looking to digitally map cases of the virus, to determine patterns and find out which individual cases could have led to infections and where, which would be immensely helpful in tracking the movements of those infected and where they are likely to transmit the virus. This could lead to finding more infections quickly, and would also help in establishing geographical trends of the spread where possible. Finding out which areas to lockdown, when and for how long will be made easier if this move is executed the right way.

Both steps are supremely practical and will help us get ahead of this pandemic. The use of data to make decisions is important because it gives the government information that it needs to arrive at the right conclusion and be proactive instead of merely reacting to a continuously changing scenario. Hopefully, both the federal and provincial governments will look to share these initiatives with each other, as a combined effort and the use of both strategies will only improve our capacity in dealing with the pandemic.