So what has happened since last update, dear reader? Mostly, just a global viral outbreak with an incredibly high death rate, A coronavirus, aka COVID-19. The UK has been holed up in their homes for a week legally, with many others staying at home for a week or three before the government mandate. There are around 600,000 confirmed cases worldwide, in a world where many can’t get access to tests or are told by their government not to bother testing. This includes the UK - tests are only administered if you are hospitalised. The incubation period can be days or up to around two weeks, so the number infected is - I’m guessing here - probably much more than a million right now.

Anyway, I was expecting my meeting with my supervisors to be short and uneventful, but after 1- or 20 minutes of Covid-talk, we pivoted to talking about research about the virus - specifically data availability. Through work we’ve already been made aware how rubbish some data are - hard to use (i.e. not machine readable or not easily available, requiring repeated manual human intervention to download), or illegal to re-use due to restrictive licencing terms.

For fans of open things, closed licence stuff usually makes you swear a lot at people who would rather line shareholder pockets than share their work and knowledge with humanity. When it’s in pandemics, it just seems downright dastardly. Anyway - this sparked an idea for a really useful study: What data are available and what challenges do we face in a pandemic situation? Observe and record as it happens.

So, that open study? will still happen, but for now we’re focusing on the pandemic. PIVOT!