Big Data/COVID-19 News – 5/16/2020

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The big data ecosystem has come out strong to help combat the global coronavirus pandemic by announcing new products and services to help fight COVID-19. In this article, I’ve listed a number of the recent announcements along these lines. Kudos to all the vendors listed below, you may just make an important difference in getting the world past these trying times!

ACM Introduces New Award to Recognize Research that Uses High Performance Computing to Combat COVID-19 

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, announced the inception of the ACM Gordon Bell Special Prize for High Performance Computing-Based COVID-19 Research. The new award will be presented in 2020 and 2021 and will recognize outstanding research achievements that use high performance computing (HPC) applications to understand the COVID-19 pandemic, including the understanding of its spread. Nominations will be selected based on performance and innovation in their computational methods, in addition to their contributions toward understanding the nature, spread and/or treatment of the disease.

A cash prize in the amount of $10,000 will accompany the award, which was conceived and funded by Gordon Bell, a pioneer in high performance computing and researcher emeritus at Microsoft Research. The new COVID-19-focused award is a complement to the longstanding ACM Gordon Bell Prize, which recognizes outstanding achievement in high performance computing applications. Nominations can now be submitted via an online submission form and will be accepted through October 8, 2020. 

“People around the world understand the urgency of finding ways to end or mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake. “ACM is pleased to manage this new award, which  hopefully will spur computer scientists at all levels to reimagine how the powerful tools of high performance computing can be used in everything from vaccines to tracking, and perhaps even preventing the next pandemic. We thank Gordon Bell for coming to ACM with the idea for this special award, and his generosity in funding it.” 

COVID-19 Data Challenge Opened to Accelerate Research and Innovation

Data on race, under-resourced communities and COVID-19 is limited, but disproportionately high rates of sickness — and death — seem to be emerging, particularly among African Americans, U.S. Hispanics, Native People and those in rural areas. To accelerate breakthroughs and understanding of these connections, the American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building longer, healthier lives, Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), and BurstIQ, a leading provider of blockchain-based secure data solutions for the healthcare industry, have launched a data challenge to expand the resources available to researchers.

The data challenge is specifically focused on testing the relationships between COVID-19 and other health conditions, as well as health disparities and social determinants of health that bring a higher burden of illness or mortality based on factors such as ethnicity, gender, geography or income.

BurstIQ’s global COVID-19 datasets will be available on the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform, a central hub to the cardiovascular and stroke research community with vast and diverse datasets and cloud-based workspaces that enable state-of-the-art high-performance computing, analytics and collaboration to accelerate scientific discovery. Through the data challenge, COVID-19 researchers will be able to utilize the Platform’s protected workspaces, which are equipped with state-of-the-art analytical tools, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Researchers may use data sets hosted on the Platform as well as their own data to address the unsolved questions of how COVID-19 may be disproportionately affecting those with health disparities. 

“People living in under-resourced communities, particularly African Americans and U.S. Hispanics, appear to be dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, as they’re more likely to have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science for the American Heart Association. “Long before the pandemic, systemic challenges have contributed to disparities that impede some people from living long, healthy lives. COVID-19 has further exacerbated this issue.”

Alteryx Announces New Global Upskilling Program to Certify Thousands of Data Workers in 2020

Alteryx, Inc. (NYSE: AYX), revolutionizing business through data science and analytics, announced the launch of a new program called Advancing Data and Analytics Potential Together (ADAPT). ADAPT is the newest pillar of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiative, Alteryx For Good, and will offer free data training to thousands of workers globally who have found themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Every graduate will be certified in the fundamentals of data analytics through Alteryx Core Certification and will be given the opportunity to advance to Udacity Nanodegree program in predictive analytics. This program is part of a broader drive to expand data literacy, upskill workers adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and educate a new wave of citizen data scientists to thrive in the data economy.

“COVID-19 underscores the importance of something we’ve believed in for a long time – data analytics technology complements and enhances our human capabilities. We believe this program will help us prove that everyone can become a data worker,” said Dean Stoecker, co-founder and CEO of Alteryx. “If the pandemic has demonstrated anything, it’s that governments, healthcare providers and businesses of all kinds need to embed data analytics throughout their organizations. Nimble, data-led businesses also need educated data workers. We’ve been working for years to train citizen data scientists and match them with accessible, useful tools. ADAPT recognizes that the timing is now critical for businesses that urgently need to transform and evolve.”

Team of PhD Researchers Unveil AI-powered Platform to Open Source COVID-19 Vaccine Development 

A team of machine learning, immunology, and bioinformatics researchers unveiled, an AI-powered, open source, interactive web platform to help accelerate vaccine development for COVID-19. Led by Tariq Daouda, PhD, who is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School, the team behind consists of volunteers who have doctoral degrees in machine learning and immunobiology, as well as bioinformaticians and web developers. 

The process to develop a vaccine is typically a very lengthy and costly process due to the number of virus-infected cells that need to be analyzed – which tend to be rare, fragile, and precious. While obtaining his doctorate degree at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at the Université de Montréal, Dr. Daouda developed an AI algorithm that can predict which parts of a virus are more likely to be exposed at the surface of infected cells, which are called epitopes. These predictions can be used by researchers to generate a significantly shorter list of potential targets to test in the creation of a vaccine — essentially reducing a process that typically takes weeks or months to hours.

“COVID-19 stresses the need to accelerate the design of vaccines and therapies to reduce the human and economic impact of global pandemics,” said Tariq Daouda, PhD, team lead of “People infected with COVID-19 tend to have a significant decrease in circulating immune cells during the acute infection phase, making it difficult to systematically isolate enough immune cells to study appropriately in a lab. Through the results now available on, the team is utilizing open source technologies to connect machine learning to biomedicine to help accelerate learnings and findings. The hope is that the scientific community will be able to leverage these results to help prioritize ongoing experimental work towards developing effective vaccination strategies.”

Disaster Tech & Kinetica Launches Crisis Management Platform

Disaster Tech, a data science platform for disaster response and led by Sean Griffin, who served at the White House for President Obama and President Trump, announced the launch of a new disaster platform that will address concerns from COVID-19. Sean partnered with the best minds and leading institutions including NVIDIA and Kinetica to develop this real-time crisis management platform.

Key Elements of the Platform Include:

  • Real-time, and current data from 30 different government, public health and private sectors all in one place so emergency responders can have it at their disposal immediately
  • Real-time data on hospital capacity, locations of alternative medical sites, state-wide declarations and protective equipment availability

Disaster Tech’s platform is intended for emergency responders to leverage  real-time data in one place to make important decisions quickly, whether identifying sites for triage centers or determining how many test kits to send out. It combines current data such as hospital capacity and diversion status, locations of alternative medical sites, state-wide declarations, testing kit quantities, and protective equipment availability at a local level. It is designed to respond not only to the novel coronavirus but to share a wide swath of relevant data across emergency response teams in future disasters, from weather to health to security threats and beyond. What is learned in this crisis can be leveraged to plan and prepare for future emergencies.

Infinidat’s COVID-19 Data Storage Offering

Infinidat is offering customers who are either under a CapEx Capacity-on-Demand or OpEx FLX capacity free use of that capacity for a minimum of 30 days, which can also be extended based on the evolving COVID-19 situation and individual customer needs. COD (Capacity on Demand) is reserve, unpurchased storage capacity on existing Infinidat CapEx systems. FLX is Infinidat OpEx storage capacity, billed monthly. Up to 100% of installed capacity can be used for 30 days at no additional charge. After 30 days, Infinidat will work with customers to accommodate their expected storage growth for the remainder of the year.

Alation Launches COVID-19 Data Catalog

In an effort to support the worldwide community of people working to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Alation Inc., a leader in enterprise data catalogs, announced the creation of a public data catalog populated with information on COVID-19. The data catalog was designed as a collaboration platform where a community of data scientists, researchers, and epidemiologists can work together to answer key questions about the disease caused by infection with the novel coronavirus.

“Combating, containing, and responding to COVID-19 is a massive data problem and in order to succeed, the brightest minds from different fields will have to work with the best data sets and collaborate with one another,” said Aaron Kalb, co-founder and Chief Data Officer at Alation. “Our catalog will give data and domain experts a single platform to discover relevant data sets, combine, annotate, and analyze them with confidence, and collaborate to generate and validate results.”

PatSnap Offers Free Access to Leading Innovation Intelligence Platform to Support Continued Innovation During COVID-19

A massive global effort is underway to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Researchers are working around the clock to find effective COVID-19 treatments, while big name manufacturers pivot production to respond to the need for critical medical supplies. To help support the fight against COVID-19, PatSnap is offering all of its innovation intelligence products for free until May 31.

PatSnap’s AI-powered platform equips researchers, scientists, engineers, IP and business professionals with actionable intelligence to move their innovations forward. Our platform analyzes millions of data points from patents, journals, venture capitalists, startups, M&A, technology news and more, and generates the insights needed to make critical innovation and R&D decisions.

Kazuhm Provides Free Compute Capacity to Organizations Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kazuhm announced their AI-driven distributed computing solution will be provided free to any organization fighting the coronavirus pandemic.  University and private sector research labs, test kit manufacturers, companies providing free or reduced cost video conferencing solutions, and companies who have quickly ramped up manufacturing for items such as hand sanitizer, gloves, and face masks can all take advantage of Kazuhm to increase their computing capacity.  This offer is available to any organization across the globe that meets the criteria of contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is bringing people and organizations around the world together with a singular goal of beating the pandemic and saving lives,” said Rick Valencia, interim CEO of Kazuhm. “The shift in resources, the changeover in manufacturing lines, the ramp up of research labs all takes immense application processing power, and Kazuhm is dedicated to ensuring these teams are getting that processing power as easily, efficiently, and securely as possible.”

WellSky®, Qlik® Partner to Deliver Complimentary COVID-19 Tracking Solution, Empowering Home-Based Care Clients with Data to Better Protect Staff, Allocate PPE

WellSky, a global health and community care technology and services company, and Qlik, a leading data and analytics company, announced the launch of a new COVID-19 heat map feature — the WellSky COVID-19 Tracker — built for home-based care providers. Amid the crisis, healthcare workers continue to face shortages of essential resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE). To address this shortage, WellSky is delivering its clients free access to powerful data analytics technology donated by Qlik to track the virus’s spread. Using the WellSky-Qlik heat map, providers can leverage data to track current outbreak hot spots, anticipate locations with increasing infection rates, and distribute valuable PPE resources based on locations where clinical staff need it most.

“In WellSky’s ongoing effort to deliver the technology our clients need to face COVID-19, we’re giving care providers the data, insights, and visibility into the pandemic that they need to keep their teams safe in the field and protect their patient populations,” said Bill Miller, CEO of WellSky. “With information changing daily, care providers need up-to-date data on where they should focus their attention and finite resources. WellSky and Qlik’s new coronavirus heat map will help providers make smarter, more informed decisions throughout this public health crisis.”

MDClone Announces COVID-19-Specific Application, Enabling Healthcare Industry Collaboration and Innovation to Combat Coronavirus with Global Data Network

MDClone​, a digital health company, announced the launch of The MDClone Pandemic Response Package. The COVID-19 application is a condensed version of the full-service data management platform. This new package allows healthcare organizations to understand and leverage their own data around COVID-19 in rapid cycles and gives them the ability to compare and collaborate with health systems around the world through the MDClone Global Network. 

With this application, healthcare organizations will be able to leverage COVID-19 relevant data to understand performance and engage other like-minded systems, enabling the healthcare community to collaborate on new ideas, apply lessons learned from other organizations around the world, and come together to better understand the virus and its implications. Key features include utilization trends and predictive views for demand and capacity planning, defined care pathway views and analyses to understand performance, and treatment trend lines to find care pathway best-practices. 

“We are facing unprecedented times as healthcare providers around the world are looking for effective ways to treat patients with COVID-19, to avoid over-capacity, and to determine how to treat non-COVID-19 patients. In this moment of global crisis, time to insight is critical. We know the normal pace of weeks and months to get answers is not fast enough.” said Ziv Ofek, founder and CEO at MDClone. “As healthcare organizations look for ways to help, they need a fast and flexible way to organize and understand the rapidly changing datasets and find the necessary insights to combat COVID-19. Our vision is that by offering the COVID-19 specific application to the healthcare community, we can come together collaboratively to speed the discovery and global delivery of new insights that will help providers improve performance and outcomes.” 

Verizon Media Provides Developer Community with Tools for Analysis and Visualization of COVID-19 Data

Verizon Media announced the launch of three new resources that developers and data teams can use to organize and better understand publicly available COVID-19 data. The resources include a data set, API, and dashboard that help engineers analyze and navigate COVID-19 data. The data and resources are powered by the Yahoo Knowledge Graph, which is one of the largest organized collections of information and includes billions of facts about places, organizations, creative works, and more.

“The COVID-19 pandemic challenges us all to ask how we can help fight this virus and unite as a community,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media. “As a media organization focused on delivering trusted content to the world, we are compelled to find ways to inform the public and to empower knowledge. Given the high volume of information, data and figures released daily, one way we can help is to play a role in organizing the content that exists, while also sharing our technology that allows us to create informative and interactive visualizations of the data available about this virus.”

Yellowbrick Partners with ScaleMatrix to Expand Free Solution for COVID-19 Vaccine Research

Yellowbrick has partnered with ScaleMatrix to offer even more free access to powerful data solutions to researchers and companies actively working on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. On April 16, Yellowbrick offered its cloud data warehouse for free to those researchers and companies. ScaleMatrix is joining this effort to power the Yellowbrick offer, providing advanced data center services and HIPAA-hosting expertise for free, to accelerate the research around and development of a vaccine for COVID-19.  

“Finding a vaccine for COVID-19 is a priority for medical researchers around the world and requires the very best data and analytics technologies,” said Neil Carson, CEO, Yellowbrick. “With our cloud data warehouse and the reach and capabilities of ScaleMatrix’ DDC-enabled nationwide Data Centers, researchers and companies can now take full advantage—for free—of the most powerful data solutions to speed time to insight and ultimately development of a vaccine that helps stop the spread of the pandemic.” 

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