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Whitespace facilitates the COVID-19 data alliance featuring IBM, Rolls-Royce, Microsoft, Google Cloud & others

Whitespace facilitates the COVID-19 data alliance featuring IBM, Rolls-Royce, Microsoft, Google Cloud & others main image

The Emergent Alliance exists to better inform the future decision making of corporations, small businesses and nations states.

Drawing on a diverse collaboration of corporates, individuals, NGOs and Governments, the Alliance will contribute expertise, data, and resources to inform decision making on regional and global economic challenges to aid societal recovery post Covid19.

Early alliance members are Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, IBM, Google Cloud, The Data City, Truata, Rolls-Royce, Microsoft and ODI Leeds.

The alliance will be facilitated and co-ordinated by Whitespace Chief Technology Officer, Rachel Gawley.

Together the initial wave of members brings all the key elements of open innovation; data publication, licensing, privacy, security; data analytics capability; and collaborative infrastructure, to kick off its early work and grow its membership.

Emergent will combine traditional economic, business, travel and retail data sets with behaviour and sentiment data, to provide new insights into – and practical applications to support – the global recovery from COVID-19. This work will be done with a sharp focus on privacy and security, using industry best practices for data sharing and robust governance.

Emergent models will help get people and businesses back to work as soon as possible by identifying lead indicators of economic recovery cycles. Businesses, both small and large, around the world, as well as governments, can use these insights to build the confidence they need to make early decisions, such as investments or policies, that could shorten or limit the recessionary impacts from the pandemic.

The alliance is voluntary and insights will be published for free.

Caroline Gorski, Global Director, R2 Data Labs, the Rolls-Royce data innovation catalyst which started the alliance, said: “We want the global economy to get better as soon as possible so people can get back to work. Our data innovation community can help do this and is at its best when it comes together for the common good.

“People, businesses and governments around the world have changed the way they spend, move, communicate and travel because of COVID-19 and we can use that insight, along with other data, to provide the basis for identifying what new insights and trends may emerge that signify the world’s adjustment to a ‘new normal’ after the pandemic.”

Andrew Brown, General Manager, IBM Cloud & Cognitive Software Europe said, “IBM looks forward to joining our existing partners and valued clients in this initiative. It is hoped IBM’s contribution will help accomplish the identification of proven use cases, to assist where recovery indicators emerge for countries, governments, state agencies and supporting companies to best respond to the next phase of the improvement in the pandemic.”

Professor Mark Birkin, Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, University of Leeds, said: “The COVID crisis has demonstrated the need for governments and their advisers to seek real-world insights into mobility, behaviour and human contact networks. At LIDA we believe that there are mutual benefits from access to transactional data for scientific research, business and commerce, so will be working as part of the alliance to facilitate the secure sharing of data and to connect Emergent partners with expertise within the academic community.”

Felix Marx, CEO at Truata, said: “Here at Truata we had no hesitation in offering our services as part of the Emergent alliance to utilise data for societal good. We’re keen to support the efforts in extracting the analytical value out of contributed data sets to assist in the containment of COVID-19 and drive economic recovery – in a way that fully respects the privacy rights of the individuals underlying that data. Truata will do this via its suite of proprietary privacy-enhanced data analytics solutions (including its data anonymization, privacy risk quantification, data de-identification and synthetic data generation solutions), which have been specifically designed to empower high-value analytics on large data sets while complying with the highest global privacy standards.”

“We are living in unprecedented times. And, at this moment of great uncertainty, we must recognise that we all play a role in addressing the global challenge as quickly and efficiently – but also as responsibly – as possible.”

Rajh Das, Manufacturing and Industrial lead, UK&I, Google Cloud said: “Google Cloud is proud to be involved in such an important project as we all work together to support business globally during these extraordinary times.”

Emergent has set up a website for potential members to register their interest at emer2gent.org.

The first challenges have already been issued to the community, including one to identify lead indicators of economic recovery which businesses can use to build the confidence they need for investment or activities that will shorten or limit any recessionary impact from the virus.