• The initiative counts with the participation of the Generalitat of Catalonia, medical and health institutions, leading technological research centres and Mobile World Capital Barcelona
  • The project ‘Big Data for Epidemic Preparedness’, will propose mathematical prediction models based on the analysis of environmental, epidemiological and aggregated anonymized mobile data.
  • The objective is to provide a decision making support tool based on innovative epidemiological models to anticipate epidemics and improve management

Barcelona, 16th July 2020.- Catalonia today sets forward the first project that will use Big Data analysis and Artificial Intelligence for the prevention of epidemics, to help predict, detect earlier and mitigate the spread of epidemics. With the use of advanced digital technologies, this project aims to create new mathematical models to enable monitoring and prediction for the early detection of future epidemic outbreaks, capable of providing the necessary information for more effective containment and mitigation actions.

This ambitious public-private initiative joins the efforts of the Generalitat of Catalonia, through the Department of Digital Policies and Public Administration and the Department of Health ; medical and health institutions (Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital, the Fight Against AIDS Foundation), leading technological  innovation and research centres (CIDAI, Eurecat, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Universitat Rovira i Virgili and Universitat de Girona); and Mobile World Capital Barcelona. In addition, the project counts with the collaboration of the GSMA AI for Impact initiative.

The Observatory will be located at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital (HGTiP) and will count with the scientific coordination of Dr. Bonaventura Clotet, Head of the Infectious Diseases Service at the Germans Trias i Pujol Hospital and President of the Fight Against AIDS Foundation (FLS). Technical coordination will be carried out by the Centre of Innovation for Data Tech and Artificial Intelligence (CIDAI), created under the framework of the Government of Catalonia Artificial Intelligence Strategy, Catalona.AI.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put on the table the need to detect epidemic outbreaks earlier to improve containment and mitigation processes. Thus, the Epidemiological Observatory aims to analize the spread of epidemics by applying advanced analytics to mobile networks, census, epidemiological as well as environmental and meteorological data. This will enable improved mathematical models to design better strategies for the prevention and mitigation in the spread of present and future epidemics.

Big Data for Epidemic Preparedness

The first research project of the Observatory, ‘Big Data for Epidemic Preparedness’, will apply analytic technology to Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in epidemiological, mobile networks, census  and meteorological data with the objective to improve the understanding of pandemics spread in order to anticipate and improve the management of public resources.

Thus, the data will first be cross-referenced in an aggregated and anonymised form – in no case will it enable traceability or identification of people – to further proceed in the analysis and extension of mathematical models to compare and predict specific epidemics patterns, from influenza and Covid-19. This will allow defining a first epidemiological model to which Machine Learning techniques and algorithms will later be applied for improvement. Finally, the task will be the construction of a tool capable of automatically integrating the different data sources, allowing monitoring of the evolution of an epidemic and creating a decision support system open for scientific and health use.

Personal data treatment and privacy

One of the priorities of this Observatory is to define and implement a data processing model that fully guarantees the respect to information of personal character to protect the intimacy and privacy of citizens. In this sense, with the aim to study the transmission of the virus, only anonymous aggregated epidemiological and mobility data will be used, following the recommendations and best practices of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the Department of Health of Catalonia.