A data science coalition of University of Wisconsin researchers began analyzing COVID-19 data in the Midwest to help lessen the pandemic’s expansion. 

The coalition, called The COVID-19 Data Science Research Group, is a collaborative effort of over 100 researchers and experts from diverse fields and departments. The coalition is hosted by UW’s American Family Insurance Data Science Institute. 

UW research team analyzes travel, social media data to monitor COVID-19 spreadA multidisciplinary research team, headed by University of Wisconsin professor Song Gao, started analyzing travel and social media data to Read…

According to a UW news release, interim director of AFIDSI Brain Yandell contacted researchers at numerous UW institutes, such as UW Health, the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, the Data Science Hub and the School of Medicine and Public Health to form the coalition.

“We need an overflow of information from testing,” Yandell said in the news release. “The data we get from testing can then be used to refine our models, rather than making assumptions.”

The research group has a well-defined charter which says the group aims to interpret data and provide useful models to policy makers in Wisconsin. They hope to collaborate and keep the public informed with useful and credible data, according to the charter. 

According to the news release, the current data and modeling show that the transmission of COVID-19 has significantly decreased since the implementation of Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home order. The group is currently working on developing a system that will provide information to relax physical distancing policies by contact data tracing, according to Data Science Hub Director Michael Ferris.

“We want these models to be effective and help decision-makers and the general public understand the evolution of this system and how we can use interventions to affect that evolution,” Ferris said in the news release. 

Professor Song Gao and his research team recently received an almost $200,000 grant to track COVID-19 spread throughout the U.S. using cell phone data as a part of the coalition.

Also part of the coalition, Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab Director Lennon Rodgers and his team are collaborating with manufacturers to meet the ever-increasing demands of medical face shields.

In an email to The Badger Herald, Assistant Professor Justin Boutilier, who is a part of Rodgers’ group, said the group collects data from intake forms on their website and through follow-up emails with organizations. 

We faced a few small challenges associated with designing the matching algorithm [and] automating some of the process,” Boutilier said. “We didn’t initially account for requests [and] manufacturers from outside North America.”

UW research team analyzes travel, social media data to monitor COVID-19 spreadA multidisciplinary research team, headed by University of Wisconsin professor Song Gao, started analyzing travel and social media data to Read…

The website connects manufacturers and those in need of face shields. The website has received a RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation for their project.

The Cap Times reported Midwest Prototyping delivered about 1,000 Badger Shields to UW Health. Yandell said in the news release that taking steps through science is necessary to understanding and ending the pandemic. 

“I’d rather be here in calm times. I think that is true for all of us. But this is what I — what we — need to be doing now, together, to stop this pandemic and minimize its impacts,” Yandell said in the news release.