How accurately can data be used to help stop the spread of COVID-19? Amid the anxiety can data help people understand the facts and protect loved ones?
Can data support government decision-making and justify why certain measures are being taken?
And what does data tell us about our way of life as efforts to combat Coronavirus ramp up?
These questions and many more will be discussed during an online forum Data Science in the News: What Data can tell us about COVID-19 being held this Friday, March 27.
Researchers from multidisciplinary fields including data science, business, public health and communication will join the online open forum hosted by QUT’s Centre for Data Science and Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences to discuss the unfolding crisis.
Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, who also heads QUT’s Centre for Data Science, will chair the panel.
Professor Raja Jurdak specialises in applied data sciences at QUT and has been recognised for his efforts in dynamic network modelling and graphing in relation to infectious disease.
Professor Jurdak’s work has recently focused on the travel bans, risk reductions, restrictions and the potential for COVID-19 spread on public transport networks.
“We’re combining multiple data sources on people movement to understand the risk of COVID-19 importation and spread,” he said.
“Some of the data sources we use include global air passenger volumes, arrival card data for Australia and incidence rates of COVID-19 in various jurisdictions.
“Clearly, people movement and people contacts drive the disease spread process.”
Dr Char-lee Moyle, Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Mid-Career Research Fellow in the School of Management at QUT Business School, is providing weekly updates of data relating to the impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses direct to government.
Dr Moyle said with the tourism industry shut down, combined with the declining wealth in Australia and globally, the impacts to the tourism industry will be ongoing.
“We will not have seen this since World War II. Before the crisis, tourism was one of largest global industries supporting careers in just about every sector, such as accommodation, restaurants, transport, education, retail and events,” she said.
“The knock-on effect of this will be enormous. We need good data to support future responses by government, businesses and the community so we can buffer the shock and bounce back as quickly as possible.
“We need data and the ability to analyse this data.”
QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre investigates the important societal role of digital media, including during times of crisis such as the 2011 Brisbane floods, through the recent bushfires and now COVID-19.
Associate Professor of Digital Communication Daniel Angus said digital users have flocked to different platforms to share their experiences and observations, to stay socially connected, and to offer help or voice concerns as to how the current crisis was being handled.
“It is important that in a time where an extraordinary high volume of material is being shared online that leaders be absolutely clear and concise in their messaging, and also for us all to be critical of what we consume and share online and occasionally take a break for our mental health.”
Members of the public can register to join the online forum.
MEDIA CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 3138 1150 after hours 0407 585 901.