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I’ve heard self-quarantine called "exile for the good of the realm." We’re all stuck in our castles, waiting for the pestilence to pass.

Fortunately, the castles in our realm have internet! And there are amazing efforts underway online that enable everyone to contribute to humanity’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

You — yes, you — have a powerful skill set to aid our beleaguered realm. You are a Knight of the Data Table, a Druid of Dynamic Replace, a Sorcerer with Summarize. Your understanding of analytics is not common knowledge, and there are a great many data-related problems that could use your input.

Here’s a roundup of projects happening now that would love your participation. Grab your helmet, gauntlets and greaves keyboard, mouse and data analytics tools, and let’s venture out to fight for our — all — people.




 Take on a Challenge


  • One of the most publicized data-focused efforts to understand COVID-19 is the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset Challenge, hosted on Kaggle. The challenge asks participants to dig into over 29,000 scholarly articles related to COVID-19 and the broader family of coronaviruses. Some of the top questions to explore are related to virus transmission, risk factors and vaccines. If you have NLP skills or or have wanted to learn, here’s an amazing dataset to examine.


  • is putting together a variety of initiatives that have data elements, including a tracking app using phone location data to identify potential virus transmission, a campaign to encourage businesses to permit work from home, and an anonymous communication app for verified medical professionals.


  • Do you looooove cleaning data? Who doesn’t, right? 😜 Volunteers are needed to help clean raw datasets related to COVID-19 cases around the world. It looks like the organizers are mainly using Python for this project, so if that’s your weapon of choice, jump on in.


  • The cleverly named CODEVID-19 hackathon is helping people find collaborators and projects related to COVID-19. There will apparently be prizes, but the hackathon just started yesterday, so no specifics are available yet. The goal is “to build solutions to help combat COVID-19, survive the quarantine, and connect with others.”


  • Catchafire links people with skills to nonprofits who need them. There aren’t any coronavirus-specific projects in the Data and Analytics category right now, but there might be soon as more data becomes available. You might see another project on the site that suits your skills and can help you fill some empty hours at home.





Easier but Important Ways to Help Online


  • You definitely shouldn’t be working nonstop; be sure to relax and take care of yourself! Many of us around here just adore a good puzzle. You can play FoldIt puzzles to help analyze coronavirus protein structure and designs. Form a team or play solo. There are points to be earned and a leaderboard to conquer! And when you step away from the computer, make sure it’s still at work: The Folding at Home project uses distributed computing to run protein-folding simulations on otherwise inactive computers. The researchers are currently studying COVID-19 to look for new therapeutic options. You can literally sleep while you help out!


  • If you kinda wish you were an epidemiologist right now, you can at least play one on your computer. Contribute to both coronavirus and influenza forecasting by participating in the Crowdcast project at Carnegie Mellon University, which has used the ”wisdom of the crowd” to repeatedly win the CDC’s “Predict the Flu” challenge. They are currently adapting their models for COVID-19, but you can still go help with flu forecasting right now. If you’re a forecasting fanatic, you’ll definitely want to try this out. Drawing trend lines is both fun and really helpful here.


  • ...and finally, don’t forget to check in with friends and family. Send a text or a funny GIF if you can’t call or videoconference. Even a quick moment of human contact can go a long way right now.

Have you found other ways to support the response to the pandemic with your data or tech skills? Feel free to comment below and join the COVID-19 discussions in our forums! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Susan Currie Sivek
Data Science Journalist

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is a writer and data geek who enjoys figuring out how to explain complicated ideas in everyday language, sometimes in silly ways. She appreciates good food, science fiction, and dogs.

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is a writer and data geek who enjoys figuring out how to explain complicated ideas in everyday language, sometimes in silly ways. She appreciates good food, science fiction, and dogs.