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Odysseus, a collaborative project led by The Alan Turing Institute, is featured by Microsoft On the Issues, the organisation’s global public affairs content hub that explores ways technology impacts society.

The article, written by Katharine Rooney, brings focus to the rapid redeployment of a Turing study monitoring air quality in London to respond to the coronavirus pandemic as London went into lockdown in March 2020.

The idea was really to try and identify synergies between all of these datasets, and exploit those to get more information than perhaps just looking at one single dataset. Professor Mark Girolami

Codenamed Odysseus, the project was led by a Turing team including Professor Mark Girolami, Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair at the University of Cambridge, Programme Director for Data-Centric Engineering at the Turing, and academic lead at both CSIC and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB). Working with the London Data Commission and City Hall, the Odysseus team gathered behavioural information – how busy the capital was and public responses to government interventions – from existing open data sets, including traffic monitoring videos, to support planning and decision-making by London authorities.

“The idea was really to try and identify synergies between all of these datasets, and exploit those to get more information than perhaps just looking at one single dataset,” said Professor Girolami of Odysseus, that used cloud-based infrastructure built as part of ongoing Microsoft-supported research at Turing, as well as statistical machine learning and AI.

The success of the project and actionable insights offered by data-driven analysis and open data is reflected in the interest in adopting the same approach by other city authorities in the UK and further afield. Outputs from Odysseus are already providing significant insights on public behaviour and commercial impact enabling planners to have early signs of behavioural changes. Data collected by the team will also enable retrospective studies of social behaviour and help to shape decision-making supporting positive and equitable recovery.

The article also outlines Microsoft’s collaborative activity as part of its Open Data campaign launched in April 2020 that aims to close the data divide and address a number of societal issues including the educational impact of COVID-19 restrictions.

Read the full article ‘How sharing data is helping fight the spread of Covid-19 in the UK’  at  Microsoft On the Issues.

• Image courtesy of MIcrosoft



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