Meet the International Team Mapping the Real-Time Spread of COVID-19

Think of it like Wikipedia, but an open database — curated by volunteers — that instead tracks and maps the real-time spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Since the onset of what has become the COVID-19 pandemic, an international team of over 20 researchers has been aggregating information and developing publicly available datasets to help people study the outbreak as it evolves.

Many of the researchers part of the Open COVID-19 Data Curation Group first connected in 2015 while working on a similar project during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But the scale of COVID-19 has already made this latest effort a much larger task.

“We didn’t necessarily anticipate in early January that this was going to become a pandemic,” says Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute, who is a member of the collaboration. “It really is being operated now like the large scale project it has become”

The goals of the project are to make this raw data open to the public to inform how this outbreak began, give a real-time look at how the situation is changing, how it is unfolding both locally and globally and what is working to stem the spread.

The information is being widely used by an array of individuals and organizations including the CDC, European CDC, and WHO.

The project is collaboratively led by Moritz Kramer of the University of Oxford, and David Pigott of the University of Washington in Seattle.

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The ‘Sinister’ Dangers Of Companies Collecting Our Data

Business Insider spoke to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance at the University of Oxford and co-author of “Reinventing Capitalism in the age of big data.”

Mayer-Schönberger said companies collecting our data could lead to “sinister” dangers, such as flaws in digital recommendation engines.

He added the age of big data could also lead to large monopolies.

Watch the interview to hear more.
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Scientists Can Now Quickly Link Extreme Weather Events To Climate Change (HBO)

The United States is in the middle of a deep cold snap, and meteorologists are saying that a “bomb cyclone” — essentially a freezing hurricane — will hit parts of the East Coast tonight. It’s a weather cycle that’s prompted a number of climate change deniers — including President Trump — to crack tired jokes about the concept of global warming.

But beyond the misguided social media jabs lies a serious and ongoing discussion about how scientists can connect individual extreme weather events to underlying climate change — and more importantly, how fast they can make now those connections.

Remember that study from 2004? It looked at a European heat wave that took place in 2003, and took a year and a half to complete. In contrast, just three months after Hurricane Harvey, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a study showing that Harvey dropped 38 percent more rain than it would have without underlying climate change. Another group called World Weather Attribution found that hurricanes that size have become three times more probable

VICE News spoke with Myles Allen, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford and one of the researchers behind the first climate attribution study, who explained why scientists are now able to rapidly figure out if an event like Hurricane Harvey was more devastating than it otherwise would have been because of climate change. (Answer: it was.)

“We are now looking at accelerating that whole process because once you’ve agreed on the method you’re using, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you do a new study,” Allen told VICE News. “The actual time it takes to actually do the calculations is not that long.”

This segment originally aired January 3, 2017 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

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This Oxford grad eats for £5 a week by dumpster-diving

Josephine Liang, 25, is part of a growing community of “freegans,” people who eat recently discarded food to reduce waste.

Liang used to shop regularly at the supermarket, then found a cheaper alternative by rummaging through bins, a decision that she says has lowered her weekly food bill to just £5 a week. Liang will wait until shops and cafes close, and then go through their bins to see what she can find. She is saving the money to go travelling.

Liang said: “I want to show people that there’s so much breadth of food that is being thrown away and it is very easy for you to eat more sustainably and cheaply just on food that people are throwing away.”

Liang graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016 with a Master’s degree in Global Health Science, according to her LinkedIn page. She now works for food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart.

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