IFISC (UIB-CSIC) coordinates, together with the Centre for Advanced Studies in Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), a research project that uses computer and data science techniques to check how the containment measures that have been taken to stop the spread of Covid19 are being effective.
The results will be essential to improve the social distancing strategies taken in future outbreaks of this or other diseases. To carry out the research, a multidisciplinary team with experts in computing, demography, physics and movement studies, is analysing massive, high-resolution data that are now being obtained from map servers and telephone operators, data that explain how mobility and social contacts have changed since confinement began.
With the data obtained, the team of researchers simulates different scenarios or strategies of social distancing and help in decision making. The results are key both to deciding whether to activate a tighter confinement, and to planning a safe and effective end to the confinement. Reports are available on the Data Analytics @ IFISC website.
To achieve this objective, the project includes several phases in parallel: first, the characterization of mobility thanks to the contribution of different data platforms: information coming, for example, from online social networks and mobility patterns captured by aggregated mobile phone records. A second aspect is the change in people's behavior due to the perception of risk. The project is developing surveys and mobile apps to quantify these changes, trying to estimate the population's adherence to personal protection measures and what the changes are in the quantity and quality of contacts they have, which is key information for understanding the process of contagion.
The project will use artificial intelligence and data science tools and will integrate massive real-time data on human mobility, geolocated surveys and computer models. It will be a new way of doing epidemiology that will combine computational epidemiology, digital demography, and human mobility models. All this will allow us to observe how containment measures have changed the mobility and behavior of people.
A second, long-term objective is to establish the germ of a network of computational epidemiology in Spain, as already exists in other countries, and a series of interoperable analytical tools, based on epidemiological theory, data science, and artificial intelligence, to inform decision-making in future situations of epidemiological crisis that may recur in the globalized and interconnected world in which we find ourselves.
The information and models that will be developed during this research will be made available to the public for future use following an open data model under the FAIR principles (acronym for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).
In addition to IFISC and CEAB, the project has the participation of teams from the Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography (IEGD-CSIC), the Institute of Physics of Cantabria (IFCA-CSIC), the National Centre of Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC), as well as scientists from the Pompeu Fabra University and the National Centre of Epidemiology-Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII).