IIT Madras fosters collaboration for a great work

IIT Madras and IISc and ISI are collaborating with Semantic Web India to continue the efforts of a critical COVID-19 Data website. The new public repository is being hosted at the website ‘www.incovid19.org’

Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is Bengaluru based educational institution that was established in 27 May 1909 and is among the most admired institutions in India.

IIT MadrasIndian Statistical Institute (ISI) is based in Kolkata and is a higher education and research institute which is recognised as an institute of national importance.

It is interesting to note that ‘www.covid19india.org’ offered a comprehensive view on the pandemic across India by providing data on confirmed cases, active and recovered cases, tests and fatalities.

The portal also recently started showing vaccination administration status for single-dose and fully vaccinated, say sources from IIT Madras. The website, which till now was run by volunteers based on a crowd-sourcing model, provided valuable data to the public as well as researchers studying the pandemic.

The organisers recently announced that they would stop their operations beyond 31 October 2021. This new initiative of these Academic Institutions and Semantic Web India will now continue updating the data from 1st November 2021 and make it available at www.incovid19.org.

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Explaining this initiative, Professor V. Kamakoti, Associate Dean (Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research), IIT Madras said ‘www.covid19india.org’ was providing a valuable service by making this data publicly available in one place, which is important to understand the pandemic.

IIT MadrasIt benefitted the general public and researchers studying the COVID-19 spread. Factoring these aspects, the three Institutions are collaborating with Semantic Web India to provide similar data, with some added improvements, said Professor Kamakoti of IIT Madras.

He further said the data on COVID-19 is being put out in public domain by various Government entities. This initiative collates all this data and provides a one-stop-shop in a standardised format for the benefit of researchers and general public.

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The granularity of the data points of www.covid19india.org extended to the districts of most states. The historical data must be preserved in order to support future studies on the pandemic.

Speaking about this initiative, Professor Siva Athreya, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Bengaluru said covid19india.org has been available since the pandemic started and has tracked the pandemic across geographies in India.

‘It has been a valuable contribution. While the website will remain active, they would not be updating the data. IIT Madras, IISc and ISI have joined hands with Semantic Web India to continue updating the data and making it available at a new public repository hosted at www.incovid19.org.’

IIT MadrasThis new initiative would ensure the availability of data on COVID-19 pertaining to confirmed cases, active, recovered, deceased and tested for all the 36; states and Union Territories of India in an automated and robust manner until March 2022.

Further, the consolidated data will be made available to the general audience through a public repository with appropriate APIs (application programming interface) matching those currently available at https://www.covid19india.org/ to ensure least disruption to applications and consumers of information.

Elaborating on the key objectives of this initiative, Dr. Asha Subramanian, Founder and CEO, Semantic Web India, said they are trying to make the process as automated as possible, to provide data continuity at the state/district level wherever possible, using published sources at state government portals, post 31 October 2021.

Dr. Asha Subramanian further said ‘we also wanted to harness the wealth of information available on the portal for the last 16 months, to not only to make it as a repository but to bring in some value addition by enabling comparison of historical data.

This includes insightful analysis such as comparison studies of various states/districts with similar population demographics and their performance on various parameters including first, second wave and vaccination coverage, said Dr. Asha.

IIT MadrasThe new portal www.incovid19.org will continue the efforts of the current Covid19 India portal with historical and newly collated data from diverse sources. Beyond this, the project also envisages creation of a semantic layer on the data to provide enhanced search and analysis.

Further, Dr. Deepayan Sarkar, Associate Professor, Theoretical Statistics and Mathematics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) Delhi said from the perspective of researchers who are working with COVID-19 data, it is important that data continue to be available going forward.

The goal is to continue collecting the data and making historical data available in a manner that lets researchers keep using their existing work flows with minimal disruption, said Dr. Deepayan Sarkar.

Professor Rajesh Sundaresan, Dean, Division of Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Sciences and a professor at the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering, IISc, Bengaluru said ‘Kudos to the covid19india.org team of volunteers on their sustained effort.’

This new initiative would ensure that important data related to the COVID-19 pandemic is vetted, standardised, made machine-readable and available on a single platform that the public, epidemiologists, and policy makers could continue to rely on, he said.

About IIT Madras

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) was established in 1959 by the Government of India as an ‘Institute of National Importance.’

The activities of the Institute in various fields of Science and Technology are carried out in 16 academic departments and several advanced interdisciplinary research academic centres.

The Institute offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes leading to B.Tech., M.Sc., M.B.A., M.Tech., M.S., and Ph.D., degrees in a variety of specialisations.

IIT Madras is a residential institute with more than 600 faculty and 9,500 students. Students from 18 countries are enrolled here. IIT Madras fosters an active entrepreneurial culture with strong curricular support and through the IITM Incubation Cell.

IIT Madras has been ranked No.1 in the ‘Overall’ Category for the third consecutive year (from 2019 to 2021) released by National Institutional Ranking Framework, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India.

IIT MadrasIIT Madras has also been ranked No.1 in the ‘Engineering Institutions’ category in the same Rankings for six consecutive years – from 2016 to 2021.

It was also adjudged as the ‘Top innovative Institution’ in the country in Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) in 2019 and 2020. ARIIA Ranking was launched by the Innovation Cell of Ministry of Education.

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