Interview: Istanbul's district municipality copes with COVID-19 via digital center

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 21, 2020
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ISTANBUL, May 20 (Xinhua) -- A digital management center on public health has recently played an important role in the fight against COVID-19 in one of Istanbul's most crowded districts.

"Our services are of great value for the reputation of Istanbul," Riza Akpolat, mayor of the Besiktas municipality, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The Besiktas municipality on the European side of the city founded the Public Health Digital Management Center in mid-March when the coronavirus was first seen in the country to identify the risk groups and areas.

The center, the first of its kind in Turkey, soon started to be widely and effectively used in the city's battle against the pandemic to meet the needs of the residents during the crisis period, according to the municipality.

Having a coastline alongside the Bosphorus Strait, which flows between the European and Asian parts, Besiktas also welcomes business people and tourists from different parts of the world as it hosts numerous international events and conferences.

"The municipal team at the center spontaneously observe all the dynamics of the district through a heat map that is continuously updated according to the changing realities of the field," Akpolat explained the functioning of the center.

"And, the data are flowing into the system non-stop from several sources, including call centers, social media platforms, and municipal teams working in the field," he continued.

Based on the information collected, the municipality either provides health care assistance or food and basic supplies to those who are in need without wasting time, according to the mayor.

"After the finalization of a specific action, we put a sign on the system which indicates that the job is completed," Akpolat said.

As the center contains private information about the residents, the municipality does not allow any outsiders into the station except five team members, including a data analyst.

The center drew appreciation of several international institutions.

"It will continue functioning after the end of the pandemic to manage further pandemics, disasters, earthquakes, or any situation that threatens public health," the mayor added.

Istanbul, with a population of over 16 million, witnessed 60 percent of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

The death toll from the coronavirus in Turkey climbed to 4,222, and the confirmed cases totaled 152,587 on Wednesday, showed the latest figures of the Health Ministry. Enditem

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