Irish-led project launches data platform to boost EU’s pandemic response

12 Apr 2022

Image: © terovesalainen/Stock.adobe.com

Led by NUI Galway, the project has developed an open-source platform that collects real-time, pandemic-relevant data from multiple sources.

An Irish-led pandemic response project has launched a new data platform to help the EU respond rapidly to future public health emergencies.

Pandem-2 is an EU-funded research project under the Horizon 2020 programme. It started last year and aims to create a “whole of EU approach” so that countries can respond more effectively to pandemics in the future. The project consortium believes vulnerabilities were highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic due to a non-unified approach.

Future Human

Led by NUI Galway, the consortium consists of 19 partner organisations from across the EU, including Epiconcept in France and Clarisoft in Romania.

The goal of the new platform, Pandem-Source, is to collect real-time data relevant to pandemics from international sources, laboratories, social media and volunteer organisations.

“We hope that this tool will support the work of pandemic managers across Europe by connecting them to real-time information from traditional and non-traditional sources,” Epiconcept head of data science Francisco Orchard said.

“The tool means officials involved in the response to public health emergencies will have case numbers, hospitalisations, deaths, vaccination uptake, to name a few, at their fingertips,” Orchard added.

The platform is designed to meet the needs of public health agencies, governments and international groups such as the World Health Organization.

It is open source and available to the public, allowing users to analyse and compare different sources of pandemic-related data. In time, Pandem-Source will feed into the upcoming Pandem-2 Dashboard, where situational awareness components will be developed through visual analytics.

“I would like to acknowledge all partners involved in achieving this major milestone in the Pandem-2 project,” said Prof Máire Connolly of NUI Galway, who is Pandem-2 coordinator. “Covid-19 has affected every corner of society and had devastating health, economic and social impacts on countries worldwide.

“In the event of a future pandemic, we hope that the Pandem-Source tool will play a role in the conversations that public health experts and policymakers are having. Pandem-Source will provide them with the comprehensive, accurate, up-to-the-minute data that they will need to make better decisions,” Connolly added.

Several NUI Galway scientists from the Data Science Institute and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics are involved in the Pandem-2 project. These researchers have central roles in developing a suite of tools for readiness assessment for pandemic planning and for simulating pandemic outbreaks.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com