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Leeds data bodies join Covid-19 recovery alliance


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A body within the University of Leeds has become a founder member of an alliance aimed at using data to help governments and businesses recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Leeds Institute of Data Analytics (LIDA) has signed up to the Emer²gent group led by Rolls-Royce, and which also involves the local node of the Open Data Institute, ODI Leeds. Other members are IBM, Goggle Cloud, industrial data company The Data City and analytics firm Truata.

LIDA said it has worked with Rolls-Royce on developing the concept, which combines economic, business, travel and retail datasets with behaviour and sentiment data to provide insights.

Along with IBM it will provide the infrastructure for sharing and computing data, and aims to use its network of collaborators, including the Economic and Social Research Council business and local government data centres and the Alan Turing Institute. In addition, researchers will be able to access data using collaborative platforms developed by the Consumer Data Research Centre.

The institute stressed that the work will involve a sharp focus on privacy and security, using industry best practice for data sharing and strong governance.

Ideally placed

Professor Mark Birkin, co-director of LIDA, said: “Increasing numbers of academics and other commentators are now recognising the potential for commercial organisations to share important data to help in the battle against Covid-19. An established investment in data sharing capability and analytics capacity makes LIDA ideally placed to lead such conversations.

“We are delighted to bring our skills and expertise as a founder member in the Emer2gent consortium, which offers such enormous potential to deliver benefits to society – and which are so badly needed at this difficult time.”

The first challenges have already been issued by the alliance, including one to identify lead indicators of economic recovery which businesses can use to build the confidence they need for investment or activities that will shorten or limit any recessionary impact from the virus.

Caroline Gorski, global director, R2 Data Labs, the Rolls-Royce data innovation catalyst which started the alliance, said: “We want the global economy to get better as soon as possible so people can get back to work. Our data innovation community can help do this and is at its best when it comes together for the common good.

“People, businesses and governments around the world have changed the way they spend, move, communicate and travel because of Covid-19 and we can use that insight, along with other data, to provide the basis for identifying what new insights and trends may emerge that signify the world’s adjustment to a ‘new normal’ after the pandemic.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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