Hackathons seek environmental solutions to Covid-19

20 May 2020

  • Digital Sprint led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Cranfield University.
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People across disciplines are invited to take part in a series of hackathons to crunch data to gain new insights into the impact of Covid-19.

The NERC Covid-19 Digital Sprint will take place over June, and organisers are calling on environmental researchers, health and social scientists, and data specialists to join the challenge.

Entrants will work together or individually to draw from key NERC digital assets and datasets to consider the environmental impacts and consequences of COVID-19 and create a wealth of open, digital, environmental solutions to the pandemic.

Awards of up to £3000 are available to teams and individuals for the solutions that best help us understand and address COVID-19 impact.

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC, said: “Covid-19 a critical public health crisis with far reaching consequences. It is vital that we assess how environmental science can play a part in supporting our response. The Digital Sprint will explore the full range of environmental and other data available to us, and see how we can gain new insights into the impact of the virus. We hope teams from across many disciplines and sectors will take part and help in the fight against this disease.”

The NERC Digital Champions at Cranfield are running three successive virtual hackathons, each over one week and each with a different focus as well as an open ‘Kaggle’ challenge event over four weeks.

The Digital Sprint will address the environmental impacts and consequence of COVID-19 and overall will consider two focal areas:

(i) Using the environment to generate a better understanding of the interplay between the environment and the epidemiological and health related aspects of the COVID-19 epidemic, and, 

(ii) Understanding how the effects of such large-scale manipulation of the planet, cessation of travel, new consumption behaviours etc. relate to tackling the crisis. NERC national capability and research funding can be deployed to seize this.

The topics for the hackathons are: Air Quality, asking if there is a correlation between air quality and incidence and severity of the virus; Recovery, what is the impact of the lockdown; Ecosystem Services, how changes in the natural environment will impact on public health; and the Kaggle will investigate the best way to communicate the data gathered.

To take part in the NERC Covid-19 Digital Sprint, visit: https://digitalenvironment.org/home/covid-19-digital-sprint-hackathons/