COVID Data Infrastructure Builders: Creating Resilient and Sustainable Research Collaborations


PIs: Amelia Acker (UT Austin), Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIITB), Ryan Ellis (North Eastern, Boston), Megan Finn (UW Seattle)

Funding agency: National Science Foundation (through North Eastern)

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked thousands of new large-scale data projects globally. These COVID data infrastructures are essential: they enable the public, policymakers, public health officials, and others to see and comprehend particular aspects of the global health crisis. This research compares COVID data infrastructures in the U.S. and India, countries that share extremely high COVID infection rates as well as electoral democracy that encourages transparency; ‘Data for Social Good’ rhetoric; and large IT workforces. The project seeks to reveal how project leaders and contributors confront and manage the disruptions, hardships, and conflicts created by the pandemic. Working across different geographies and institutional settings, the research project will highlight how the pandemic impacts different communities in different ways. The research project will provide policymakers, technologists, and other leaders with insights and recommendations on how to improve the creation and maintenance of emergency data infrastructures. By understanding the dynamics of current COVID data infrastructures, we can be better prepared for the next emergency.


Ryan Ellis, Janaki Srinivasan, Megan Finn, Bidisha Chaudhuri, Stacey Wedlake, Amelia Acker and Youngrim Kim, 2021. “Data Care During Crisis: A Comparative analysis of COVID data infrastructure builders in India and the USA.” Paper presented at the Data / Care: Relations, Affects, Practices Panel, Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting, Toronto, October 6-9.

CITAPP at IIIT Bangalore is an interdisciplinary think-tank set-up to focus on the policy challenges and the organizational demands made by technological innovation. Of particular interest to the Centre is how technological advances, along with institutional changes that harness the legitimacy and the powers of bureaucracies and market, address the needs of underserved communities.