Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a toolbox of technology Thursday that the state will use to keep scientists, researchers and the public apprised of the latest developments in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s responses.

The California COVID Assessment Tool, or CalCAT, is described as an open source “model of models” that offers a dashboard of data, forecasts and scenarios from modeling groups nationwide, complete with links to each.

The source code for CalCAT will be made available to the public, and Newsom noted that the state is also making source code available to the public from its GitHub platform.

Newsom also directed that the state’s COVID-19 data “be open and machine-readable by default, except to preserve privacy; that data be provided via dashboard, on California’s open data portal; and that the data be available by direct connection to a database,” according to Thursday’s announcement.

The goal, according to a news release from Newsom’s office, is “to refine California’s and our counties’ insights and knowledge, and to spur collaboration with other states and researchers.”

In Thursday’s announcement, Newsom said: “California is home to some of the world’s most accomplished researchers, technologists, scientists, acclaimed universities, and leading technology companies. Today, I am opening more California data for them to help inform our efforts in combating this disease. While these models and forecasts make different assumptions, all of them show that individual actions can dramatically change the trajectory of the virus. Our state’s ability to slow the spread of the virus and keep more people from getting sick depends on Californians acting responsibly and following public health guidelines. That means wearing a face covering, staying physically distant and staying at home if you are older or at risk.”

As part of the CalCAT data offerings, the website offers menus for:

  • “Nowcasts,” the rate at which COVID-19 is estimated to be spreading
  • Short-term forecasts, which show what various models predict will occur over the next few weeks in California
  • Scenarios, which show what could happen over the next few months under different conditions.  

The site, which is in beta mode, has a clean, spare look and feel, but once an option is chosen from the menu, it opens a wealth of charts, graphs, drop-downs and pure data. The site’s various functions are interactive and dynamic.