As the coronavirus crisis deepened, scientists needed information. There was plenty available, but it was disparate, disconnected and constantly growing. Looking to bring order to the chaos, C3.ai created the COVID-19 Data Lake—letting researchers plunge into multiple data sources that were now integrated into a unified model, ready for immediate analysis. Users could explore the data based on features such as diagnosis, age, location and preexisting conditions to find patterns in the disease, evaluate efforts to combat it, and develop medicines and vaccines to prevent future outbreaks.
4th Most Influential Project of 2020
As massive swarms of desert locusts began to invade East Africa, agricultural data analysis firm Gro Intelligence stepped in, launching free data tools in April to fight off the bugs—and the threat of human hunger they leave in their wake. By tracking and predicting where the locusts will hit next, Locust Impact Tool Kit allows farmers to proactively apply pesticides, and humanitarian groups to forecast food shortages and deliver targeted relief.
21st Most Influential Project of 2020
As organizations scrambled to figure out ways to reconfigure offices for social distancing, design firm Gensler turned to generative algorithms. Its new ReRun platform analyzes workplace layouts and suggests new seating arrangements. Clients across North America and Europe have put the tool to work.
50th Most Influential Project of 2020
The Atlantic partnered with medical venture creation firm Related Sciences to build a comprehensive and much-needed hub for U.S. coronavirus data. Launched in March, The COVID Tracking Project publishes testing and patient outcomes for all U.S. states, five territories and the District of Columbia. Run by more than 160 volunteers, the site gets about 2 million requests per day, largely from national and local news organizations in the U.S. as well as from researchers around the world.
Looking to help traditional factories digitize amid the COVID-19 crisis, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s Taobao rolled out a new platform that delivers real-time analytics with a boost from AI and cloud computing. The platform provides a devoted manufacturing-to-sale channel that responds to the country’s growing made-to-order trend, which spikes during events like Singles Day.
Differential privacy uses a complex mathematical framework to scramble data and prevent hackers from accessing it. A collaboration by Harvard University and Microsoft takes the technology a step further. In June, the team unveiled a first-of-its-kind open-source version that lets researchers from academia, government and the private sector dig deep into data—without revealing personal information.
U.S. health tech firm Kinsa is on a mission to stop infectious illnesses from spreading. So it granted the public access to its interactive map showing community spread of illness—a year before COVID-19 struck. Using anonymized data, the site lets users explore which regions have the highest illness levels, how various regions compare to each other or an outbreak timeline.
U.S. tech giant IBM launched the online hub to give machine learning developers and data scientists a way to find free and open datasets on everything from fashion to weather. There are also “Watson Studio” projects, which include sets of notebooks that illustrate how users can extract, clean, analyze and model the data.
Yixue Education and Carnegie Mellon University joined forces to globally scale a platform using AI to customize learning plans for students. The Chinese-U.S. partnership aims to develop new ways for machine learning, cognitive science and human computer interface technologies to improve experiences. Formed last year, the lab is an extension of Yixue’s work under its Squirrel AI Learning’s 1,900 learning centers across China.
The International Air Transport Association and consulting titan McKinsey teamed up to roll out a data dashboard aimed at helping the travel industry grapple with the unprecedented pandemic shutdown. The tool summarizes travel-demand indicators and other public data sources to help airlines get a real-time handle on ticketing, cancellations, online search behavior and travel restrictions.