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Professor Ed Manley: Research and Innovation

In a tumultuous year LIDA researchers can be proud of how they have responded to the crisis, acting quickly to meet the emerging needs of our partners while simultaneously juggling challenging home lives. Across our three programmes of research – in Urban Analytics, Health, and Artificial Intelligence – we have seen impactful contributions to alleviating the crisis, that have ultimately benefited our response to the pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, LIDA mobilised quickly to respond to the pressing data science needs of healthcare workers and policymakers. Assisted by a new COVID-19 response committee, a number of new initiatives were formed. Two of our LIDA interns were deployed to the DECOVID project at the Alan Turing Institute, another to support the RAMP (Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic) initiative with the Royal Society, and one onto the CORD-19 Kaggle Challenge to process academic research emerging from the COVID-19. We thank the interns and the associated project supervisors involved for their flexibility in enabling this response.

LIDA also saw the initiation of three new major projects funded by UKRI COVID-19 response funding. These included a project relating to analysis of crime patterns during COVID-19 (led at Leeds by Prof. Graham Farrell, Law), analysis of transmission risk on transport systems (led at Leeds by Prof. Cath Noakes, Civil Engineering, and Prof. Susan Grant-Muller, Institute for Transport Studies), and modelling of hospital COVID-19 transmissions through healthcare workers (led at Leeds by Prof. Ed Manley, Geography). These projects, which will run through 2021, are all working closely with external partners, and have seen recruitment of a number of new researchers into LIDA.

We have also recently seen the recruitment of a record number of analysts onto the LIDA Data Scientist Internship programme. The 14 new interns will work on a diverse number of projects and themes, building on our relationships with the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) – where the interns have started on some fantastic work in Holme Wood, Bradford – the Alan Turing Institute, and with new partnerships established through the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre. Our new recruits fought off tough competition to join the scheme, after we received a record 452 applications this summer. We also waved goodbye to our fourth cohort of interns, who departed in September. They have already moved on to great things – with some starting new positions at Office for National Statistics (ONS) and others taking up roles in academia.

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