Singapore started 2016 with over 550 cases of dengue registered in the first week. The city’s environment agency warned of a new kind of virus going around and a “possible sharp increase in cases”. GovInsider looks at how Singapore’s open data on dengue can help officials preempt the disease, and citizens take action to prevent new cases.

Our open dataset of the week is Singapore National Environment Agency’s data on dengue hotspots. The data shows the neighbourhoods where dengue cases have been registered, and is updated daily.

Plotted on a map, it lights up areas where dengue is prevalent. This can tell environment officials where to focus clean-up programmes to destroy mosquito breeding grounds.

It could also help health clinics in those neighbourhoods prepare their staff, drugs and equipment in advance to treat dengue. Although there is no specific treatment for the disease, early detection and medical care by experienced doctors and nurses can help reduce the death rate, according to WHO.

While the data is invaluable for internal planning, it can be used to nudge citizens to take action in their own homes. For instance, Singapore has used this to create a colour-coded alert system for citizens.

Dengue alert banner

The government hangs up banners in neighbourhoods, informing citizens of outbreaks and steps they can take. An area with 10 or more dengue cases gets red banners. Citizens are advised to do the “5-Step Mozzie Wipeout” to keep stagnant water out of their homes.

Neighbourhoods with less than 10 dengue cases get yellow banners. When there are no more new cases registered in an area, a green banner is hung to let citizens know.

Not only is this data useful for officials to target cleaning and health programmes, but is also urging citizens to take action themselves.

The dataset can be accessed here: data.gov.sg/dataset/dengue-clusters