About the project

The project “SMOCK – Spatial Modelling for mapping COVID-19 risk” aims to reduce uncertainty associated to the risk model developed by CERENA – Centro de Recursos Naturais e Ambiente / Técnico and make the models available to decision makers, for a more insightful real-time management on the ground.

The information to be delivered in this project will be centered on COVID-19 risk maps with high spatial resolution for mainland Portugal, to be developed under a geostatistical modelling framework. These geostatistical simulation algorithms will be used to provide a measure of spatial uncertainty attached to the predicted risks to support decision-making (e.g., to set local lockdowns).

The project will use data concerning the number of positive tests for COVID-19 as provided by the Directorate-General for Health. Other auxiliary information such as mobility, socio-demographic and economic factors will be included in the models, improving not only the accuracy of predicted risks but also reducing their spatial uncertainty.
The project will demonstrate the benefits of using geostatistical models to assess the effectiveness of the measures to prevent virus propagation during all stages of the pandemic, to balance demand and supply of medical resources required to control the disease and learn lessons ahead of any possible second or third epidemic waves, while developing a vaccine.

The CERENA team has been analyzing additional information regarding the inter-municipality mobility of the populations, age group and has been testing the models for smaller geographical units in Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas. The researchers also began to model other variables in space, such as incidence and prevalence.

The project is coordinated by professor Maria João Pereira (CERENA) and was one of the projects funded by FCT – “RESEARCH 4 COVID-19” (2nd Edition), with a €38,000 total funding.
Scientists from the National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA), the Interactive Technologies Institute (ITI / LARSys) and the Centre for Management Studies at IST (CEG-IST), joined the CERENA team. SMOCK brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts in geo-spatial data sciences, epidemiology, public health, computer sciences and decision sciences in health.




  • Instituto Superior Técnico
  • CERENA – Centro de Recursos Naturais e Ambiente
  • National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA)
  • Interactive Technologies Institute (ITI/LARSys)
  • Centre for Management Studies at IST (CEG-IST)


  • Risk modelling
  • Risk maps
  • Geostatistical modelling
  • Political decision-making