Teenage coder built coronavirus tracking site used by millions worldwide
Avi Schiffmann is a 17-year-old computer enthusiast living in Washington state in the US who has built one of the most comprehensive coronavirus websites in the world.
Schiffman, a high school student, launched his website in December 2019 after taking note of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, and its subsequent spread around the world.
The breathtakingly simple site cross-references data from sources like the World Health Organisation, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention alongside regional health authorities through web scraping.
It tracks the number of people affected in various countries, the number of deaths and crucially, the number of recovered cases. The site updates itself every 10 minutes and presents the data clearly and unobtrusively. There aren’t any adverts on the site and the numbers are colour-coded to make it easier to follow.
‘I thought it would be cool if there was a website that could pull in all the information from all kinds of sources,’ Avi told Today.
‘I mainly wanted to create something that would show the data as accurately as possible because there has been a lot of misinformation.’
The teenager, who lives with his mother in Mercer Island, near Seattle, continuously updates the site and says he relies on feedback from users to spot bugs and issues.
‘I’m always adding new features. It’s going to adapt as it goes along,’ he said.
‘In the future, it might be less interesting to know there are five cases in France. We might be more interested in knowing the percentage increase from last week to this week.’
Avi taught himself to code through YouTube videos and now spends upwards of six hours a day tweaking and improving the site. It has become one of the most-viewed coronavirus tracking sites in the world and Avi has been in touch with the United Nations about it.
‘They’re interested in me becoming a youth ambassador for tech. It’s pretty cool,’ he told The Times.
Schiffman’s site isn’t the only one tracking public data on Covid-19 but it’s simplicity and accuracy is what sets it apart from others.
“The site is back up, after staying up for over 30 hours straight trying to fix the most complicated bugs. I am working on fixing mobile being messed and related bugs. The servers/everything have been completely revamped to prevent this from ever happening again.” — Avi Schiffmann (@AviSchiffmann) April 20, 2020