Tools for Researchers
The International COVID-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) exists to enable and accelerate responsible research. At its heart is the “Workbench” – a new data platform, provided by our alliance partner Aridhia Informatics that allows researchers to discover, access and analyse global multi-dimensional datasets while respecting confidentiality and privacy. The Workbench brings together a combination of tools and processes and can connect to regional or national data infrastructures used by ICODA members.
The platform will consolidate data and metadata from federated repositories to allow teams to work collectively on a focused research question. Data access and use is subject to rigorous data governance processes, based on the five safes framework.
For researchers, ICODA and the Workbench, offer a unique combination of features – direct, controlled and federated access to curated datasets and to the most advanced analytical tools. All of these are being developed and tested using our “Driver Projects” – exemplar studies where ICODA is working in close partnership with data contributors and the research community to enable research into the questions they care about.
Access to the Workbench is provided free of charge once researchers have been accredited and project proposals approved. It is accessible to researchers from all parts of the world and we are particularly keen to welcome researchers from Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMICs).
The Workbench is not just a place to access datasets. It will also act as a hub for the global research and innovation community, with access to expertise, training and support available – all with the aim of advancing our vision to support the global research response to COVID-19.
Watch a demo of the Workbench in action.
"The Workbench adopts an ecosystem approach, supporting open science to tackle COVID-19. This means we want to enable people to form dedicated teams, bring data, code, expertise, and have freedom to operate within the domain of their driver project. And we want to do this while ensuring appropriate use and governance of the data.”
CEO Aridhia Informatics
In order to provide clear and transparent ways of working, our policies address a number of key activities:
- Researchers are required to be accredited: qualifications are checked, institutional affiliation and bona fide researcher status is established
- Project proposals are reviewed for: scientific merit, patient benefit, appropriate statistical analysis plans, facilitation of high quality research, availability of relevant data that can answer the question proposed and whether participant privacy will be protected
- Project proposals in lay form are published
- All of our researchers sign up to our Alliance principles
- Our Publications policy and an Attribution policy guiding publication of research results will be added here soon
How to join us
We are currently performing our research within a number of Driver Projects. These are designed to test our processes and systems whilst contributing to knowledge around COVID-19.
At our Alliance Forum event we will be inviting submissions for further Driver Projects as part of a Grand Challenge. We would love to receive your proposals. Please attend the Forum or watch its replay for more details on how to submit a Driver Project proposal and join the ICODA research effort.
In order to access the Workbench, you must initially be part of a Driver Project. Over time we will open this invitation up to any accredited researchers with an approved project proposal.
In order to access data, you must be an accredited researcher with an approved project proposal or part of an approved project team.
Your requested data will be then be securely provisioned into the Workbench for you, or for some datasets, you will access it in-situ by deploying federated analytics requests to run against the data.
Yes, ICODA operates a proportionate set of review processes in order to ensure we operate in a safe, trustworthy and transparent manner.
Each of the Driver Projects has data sets available to it. New data sets are being added constantly.
The Workbench provides a secure, airlocked analysis environment, which gives researchers access to cutting edge tools within a Workspace. Data can be analysed in the Workspace using standard tools such as R and SQL; R-shiny apps can be written and deployed; Visual Analytics and Meta Analysis apps are provided. Our tooling is extensible. Should you need something else within your Workspace, please contact us.
No. The Workbench provides you with a secure “airlocked” environment. You are not able to download data.
ICODA and Grand Challenges are delighted to launch the new Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science pilot initiative that will focus on addressing major questions about how to reduce the harm of COVID-19 and future pandemics. The initiative aims to unite data and develop processes, analytical tools and infrastructure to achieve rapid scientific progress and impact, and will be a pilot for the ongoing Grand Challenges that seek to develop global collaboration and innovative approaches to major health challenges.
Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives, launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2003, to solve key global health and development problems. Selected projects will become part of ICODA’s portfolio of Driver Projects, helping to further develop processes, tools and infrastructure to accelerate scientific progress and foster collaboration between researchers and the public around the world. This pilot will lead to a larger Grand Challenges Data Science call in late 2021, which will be led by global Grand Challenges partners.
Focus, timeline and application process
The Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science initiative will provide awards of up to US$100,000 for studies lasting for between 6-12 months, starting in mid-March 2021 onwards. In addition, successful applicants will have access to ICODA’s digital workbench, as well as technical and wider support from ICODA and its partners.
Proposals are welcomed from any country or region, with particular priority for those involving researchers and datasets from LMICs.
The Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science initiative launches on 17 December 2020. The deadline for initial submissions will be 19 January 2021.
For specific details and criteria please consult our Request for Proposals.
Potential applicants are invited to apply using this application form. To assist research teams in preparing joint applications, we have also made a Word version and PDF version of the form available: please note that these should not be used for final submission. Please note that the application form is hosted by our delivery partner Exaptive as part of ICODA’s commitment to build global collaboration. Exaptive’s Cognitive City connects a community of researchers and stakeholders to new ideas and collaborators. If you have problems in accessing the application form, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please review the programme’s Terms and Conditions for Grant Awards prior to completing an application.
If you have questions, please review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document in the first instance.
Online Information Workshop
Further to our announcement of the Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science pilot initiative for research studies to accelerate progress on addressing COVID-19 through data science, ICODA and Grand Challenges hosted an online information workshop on 07 January 2021. Researchers from a wide range of organisations and over 140 countries around the world registered for the workshop.
Main agenda points:
• An overview of the Grand Challenges ICODA COVID-19 Data Science pilot initiative, and what we are looking for in applications
• An outline of the longer-term vision for the Global Grand Challenges data science initiatives and how this pilot will contribute
• How the ICODA Workbench and tools, as well as other resources that we will make available to Grantees, will enable and support the selected research studies
• Further information on the terms of the grant awards and what will be supported
• Significant time to address the questions raised during the workshop.
A recording of the event is below, and the presentation slides are available here.
In partnership with