Google Cloud AI, Harvard release COVID-19 forecasting model: 6 details

Google Cloud AI partnered with the Harvard Global Health Institute to develop the COVID-19 Public Forecasts, a dashboard that provides 13-day projections for hospitalizations and death rates across all 50 states.

Six things to know:

1. The dashboard relies on public data from sources including Johns Hopkins University, Descartes Lab and the United States Census Bureau. The dashboard provides projections at the state and county level.

2. Google Cloud researchers developed a novel time series machine-learning approach combining artificial intelligence with epidemiology to develop the dashboard. The new model is trained on public data and allows researchers to dive into different relationships the model has learned to interpret why the forecasts are made.

3. The COVID-19 Public Forecasts are free to query and are included in Google's Data Studio dashboard and National Response Portal. HCA Healthcare partnered with Google on the National Response Portal and has contributed to the predictive dashboard as well.

4. In developing the dashboard, the team aimed to "avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias" that would show disproportionate disease impact to certain communities; the CDC has released research showing communities of color have disproportionately high COVID-19 case and death rates. "Our team has conducted comprehensive fairness analysis to investigate how that disproportionate impact affects the accuracy of our forecasts and how they should be interpreted," Dario Sava, product manager at Google Cloud AI, wrote in a blog post.

5. Front-line workers can use the data to better understand and prepare for the COVID-19 progression in their region. They can incorporate the forecasted number of COVID-19 cases as a datapoint in resource planning for personal protective equipment, staffing and scheduling.

6. Health departments can use the data to forecast where new outbreaks are likely and devote testing resources to those areas.

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