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PSRP researchers discuss data-driven solutions for COVID-19

Thu 21 October 2021

Covid data

Researchers from the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) presented their data-driven research at the COVID-19 Public Health and Social Measures (PHSMs) Research Outcome Conference held online in October 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health crisis that requires international, transdisciplinary collaboration to address its broad scale societal and public health impacts.

In comparison to what was possible during previous pandemics, the information age and rapid advances in data-driven research have helped provide strategies and policy solutions to effectively mitigate the health effects and societal impacts of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 PHSMs Research Outcome Conference provided an important forum for scholars to share and exchange information on research findings based on the PHSM datasets collated by researchers and stakeholders from the public and private sector in response to COVID-19.

As part of a panel discussion, Dr Devanjan Bhattacharya, MSCA TRAIN@ED Postdoctoral Fellow presented his paper on ‘Micro-mobility routing architecture in COVID 19 era for safe and smart navigation’ and Laura Wise, PSRP Research Associate, presented her paper on ‘An Interactive Tracker for Ceasefires in a Time of Covid-19.’

Watch the recording of the panel discussion

Paper Abstracts

Micro-mobility routing architecture in COVID 19 era for safe and smart navigation

In COVID 19 pandemic public vehicles like buses, metro, and vehicle sharing services cease to exist. This situation left users with a limited choice of using personal vehicles which in turn escalated traffic by many folds despite the reduction in long-distance commute. To avoid traffic, for small distances within a few kilometres many users may intend to choose either cycling or walking. Recent studies in medical science have found that airborne transmission may be the dominant route of COVID-19 spread. So, cycling and walking left the user more exposed to COVID 19 than that of bikes and cars. Moreover, COVID 19 virus can be active as long as 3 days on different surfaces so surface contacts of shoes while cycling and walking make the user potential carrier of the virus to their living places. With these facts surfaced and the fact that travel and commute can be inevitable at times, safe route planning for cycling and walking is extremely important for the safety of oneself and others. Hence, we propose a multi-criteria route planning technique for cyclists and pedestrians. This aims at objectively determining the routes based on various criteria about the safety of a given route while keeping the user away from potential COVID-19 transmission spots. The vulnerable spots include places such as a hospital or medical facilities, contained residential areas, and roads with high connectivity and influx of people. Our proposed algorithm returns a multi-criteria route modelled by considering safety as well as the shortest route for user ease and short time of outside environment exposure. So first we visualize containment zones and medical facilities in Delhi. Further to verify the algorithm we carried out simulations of routes in various regions of Delhi. The results show that this technique can suggest a safer route in the context of the coronavirus outbreak than normal navigation. Also, for further advancement and post-COVID era, we discussed the need for adding open data policy and the technological system architecture for data usage, in the pandemic act. Policy guidelines based on data analysis are suggested through this study founded on privacy, security and anonymity.

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An Interactive Tracker for Ceasefires in a Time of Covid-19

 The research describes an interactive map visualization that aims to support and understand peace-building efforts in a time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our goal is to pitch both peace-making and pandemic aspects together with real-time data through a web application interface. The advent of Covid-19 brought to the fore the world’s need for technologies to be able to adapt quickly, including in the field of peacebuilding, which has been recently exploring the utility and potential of technologies for peacebuilding, or ‘PeaceTech’. Our tracker, called ’Ceasefires in a time of Covid-19’ was conceptualised as a result of the need to understand how conflict parties are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and to track the impacts of the pandemic on attempts to end armed conflict. It is a visual tracker for ceasefires during the pandemic and features a timeline and an interactive map. The tracker pulls Covid-19 infection rates from the Johns Hopkins database, and peace agreements and ceasefires from our proprietary database. This tool responds to a strong interest by researchers and policymakers in a source that brings together all of this time-sensitive information in one place. At the same time, we want to bring the public’s attention to ongoing conflicts and support any mediation and peace-making efforts. Developing the tracker involved the work of people from different professional backgrounds: researchers, policymakers, web developers, and programmers from multiple organisations who were working on this together, with the lead from the University of Edinburgh team.

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