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August release: COVID-19 repository 

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Artificial intelligence, Covid-19, Ethical innovation

One of the core building blocks of the CDEI’s COVID-19 response is our repository - a database for novel use-cases of artificial intelligence and data specifically being used to counter and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 around the world. 

The repository aims to highlight innovations that are yet to be fully explored, encouraging researchers, the media and policymakers to widen the scope of their analysis and pay attention to lesser known use cases. The fourth release of the repository can be found here

This month we have noted some key findings from our second round of public attitudes polling. 

We have been updating the repository on a regular basis with new use-cases that have been brought to our attention. After six months we will publish our key findings from this exercise. Further use-cases can be sent to, which is monitored by members of the CDEI team. 

Key findings from the August repository

  • The number of brand new use-cases that we are seeing each month has seen a downturn since we began compiling the COVID-19 repository, although we are continuing to find further examples of the existing entries that we have been tracking, indicating that existing use-cases are being adopted more widely. 
  • The number of entries in this release of the repository has jumped steeply as it also includes the findings from our deep-dive into the use of data-driven technology by local authorities
    • A more detailed summary of these examples can be found here. More than half relate to an extension or pivot of existing activity to a new context
    • This includes both the transitioning of services from in-person to online, and new synthesis of existing data sources. For example, Hackney Council has joined data together at a property level to identify vulnerable individuals. Its analysis has been compiled into a briefing pack, which alerts staff to the scale of the COVID-19 health crisis, and a broader range of issues that are likely to impact vulnerable groups. 
    • The majority (61%) of these use-cases fall into the 'digital' sector. This is compared to just 22% of our wider repository, demonstrating how significant the pandemic has been for raising awareness of the potential and value of data for local authorities. 
  • Aside from the local authority additions, the majority of new use-cases in the repository are related to the collation of existing data in new ways in order to understand different responses to COVID-19. One example of this is The Alan Turing Institute and the Greater London Authority collaborating on Project Odysseus, which aims to bring together multiple large-scale datasets capturing mobility, transportation, and traffic activity over the City of London to better understand 'busyness' and enable targeted interventions relating to lockdown. 
  • We are also continuing to see an acceleration of the use of existing technology in different fields, particularly healthcare. One particularly novel health-related use-case that jumped out is an AI-driven test that screens for COVID-19, with results being available within an hour of a patient arriving at an emergency department. 

Public attitudes survey

Below is a summary of the second wave of the CDEI’s 'Trust in COVID-19 Technology' poll: an analysis of public attitudes towards the use of technology to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Monitoring public attitudes is just one of the ways that the CDEI gathers the intelligence that is needed to identify opportunities and risks associated with AI and data-driven technology. 

  • We repeated many of the questions from the first survey in our second, in order to start getting a longitudinal view of public attitudes. The picture painted by the data in the second poll was very much one of continuity
  • At an aggregate level, most of the figures fall within the margin of error of the first month’s results, and there is little in the way of statistically significant differences. 
  • One of the few statistically significant changes is the seven point fall in the proportion of people who believe one of the main reasons digital technology might not be effectively used in response to COVID-19 is because it will not be launched in time
    • The difference wave-on-wave is still small, and for other answer options of the same question (e.g. technology not working or people not using it properly), smaller still. This means that, when asked the main reason as to why digital technology might not be effectively used in the response to COVID-19, the most popular response was still that respondents didn’t believe people would use it properly. 
  • We also asked again about three potential case studies for using technology to mitigate the effects of COVID-19: 
    • Wearable technology for social distancing in the workplace; 
    • The use of personal data (including health data) to inform local lockdowns; 
    • The use of business data to help policymakers at a local and national level understand where best to direct financial support. 
  • Awareness of all our case studies was up, but the differences are within the margin of error. The fact that all three moved in the same direction does, however, hint at the possibility that this might be a trend - albeit a small one. 
  • As a reminder, a summary of the first set of public polling results can be found here.

COVID-19 Repository - August 2020 (PDF) 

COVID-19 Respository - August 2020 (CSV) 

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