Rolls-Royce launches COVID-19 data alliance to aid economic recovery

By on 17/04/2020
The International Monetary Fund expects the world economy to shrink at its fastest pace in decades, raising fears the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression. (Photo by Rafael Matsunaga via flickr).

Rolls-Royce has established a data alliance formed of tech companies and data analytics experts that aims to help governments and businesses find new ways to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the global economy.

The alliance, called Emer2gent, is formed of an initial group of seven companies and institutions including IBM, Google Cloud and the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics. It will combine 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.

The alliance’s members will bring expertise in innovation, advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), privacy, security and collaborative infrastructure. The aim is to identify lead indicators of economic recovery cycles and create models that will help businesses to reopen and people to get back to work as soon as possible.

The insights will be published for free and can be used by governments to take early policy decisions that could shorten or limit the recessionary impacts of the pandemic.

“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,” said Caroline Gorski, global director of R2 Data Labs, Rolls-Royce’s innovation unit, which specialises in using advanced data analytics, AI and machine learning techniques.

Professor Mark Birkin at the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA), added: “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 Emer2gent partners with expertise within the academic community.”

Global Government Forum reported last month that countries around the world – including the US, South Korea and Taiwan – are using AI to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The technology is being used to speed up the development of testing kits and treatments, to track the spread of the virus, and to provide citizens with real-time information. In most cases governments are working with private sector companies to utilise the technology.  

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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