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Data alliance aims to limit economic impact of Covid-19 outbreak

Established by Rolls-Royce, the alliance will combine data from different sources to create insight and practical applications to support governments and organisations around the world.

The alliance of data analytics experts wants to help society understand the new normal
The alliance of data analytics experts wants to help society understand the new normal

An alliance of data analytics experts has been set-up to help support government and businesses around the world to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.


Established by Rolls-Royce, Emer2gent will seek to combine traditional economic, business, travel and retail data sets with behaviour and sentiment data, to provide new insights into and practical applications to help people and organisations adjust to the new normal.


Alliance members include Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, IBM, The Data City, Truata, and ODI Leeds. The alliance has pledged to have “a sharp focus on privacy and security” issues.


Best practices


Facilitated and co-ordinated by innovation specialists, Whitespace, the initial members bring together expertise in areas such as data privacy, security, analytics and collaborative infrastructure. Work undertaken will be based on industry best practices for data-sharing and be underpinned by robust governance, said the alliance.


Emer2gent’s models are aiming to get people and businesses back to work as soon as possible. The first challenges have already been issued to the community, including one to identify lead indicators of economic recovery which businesses can use to build the confidence they need for investment or activities that will shorten or limit any recessionary impact from the virus.


Anyone can take part in the Emer2gent challenges, including students and citizen data scientists. The alliance is voluntary and insights will be published for free.

"The Covid crisis has demonstrated the need for governments and their advisers to seek real world insights into mobility, behaviour and human contact networks.”

“People, businesses and governments around the world have changed the way they spend, move, communicate and travel because of Covid-19,” said Caroline Gorski, global director for R2 Data Labs, the Rolls-Royce data innovation catalyst which started the alliance. “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.”


The initial members will bring together the following areas of expertise:


Truata: independently anonymises data, enabling it to conduct privacy-enhanced analytics to drive business growth, uphold customer trust and protect brand reputation.


Rolls-Royce and R2 Data Labs: applies advanced data analytics, industrial artificial intelligence and machine learning to accelerate the development of new data insights, services and apps.


IBM: will provide IBM Cloud Pak for Data, IBM public cloud and high-performance computing to the project. Additionally, IBM’s Data Science Elite team will provide its subject matter expertise as the data sets are brought together. Traditional data sources along with behavioural and sentiment data will create opportunities to deliver insights by mapping Covid-19 dispersal and recovery statistics against human behavioural responses.


ODI Leeds: a pioneer node of the Open Data Institute, it runs the Open Data Saves Lives programme, exploring the benefits data and open innovation can bring in health and social care.


Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA), University of Leeds: the research centre for applied data science, bringing together researchers from medicine, social science, business, and computing. LIDA works with corporate partners through the UKRI-ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre. The Institute will contribute secure data infrastructure, scientific expertise, and access to global academic research networks.


The Covid crisis has demonstrated the need for governments and their advisers to seek real world insights into mobility, behaviour and human contact networks,” said professor Mark Birkin, Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, University of Leeds.


“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."


Potential members can register their interest at


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