What are the environmental impacts of ‘lockdown’ and are there are patterns of behaviour that could be maintained, such as reduced transport and travel, that could reduced greenhouse gas emissions and benefit the environment in the longer term?
Digital environmental tools that can help track, understand and predict the effects of COVID-19 are to be developed by scientists across the world in a digital sprint organised by Cranfield University to offer a greener post-pandemic future.
Scientists believe past air-quality data could be used to improve predictions of the likelihood of future acute hospitalisation of COVID-19 patients due to respiratory stress. Historical urban air quality patterns, correlated with incidence of the coronavirus and the likelihood of intensive care treatment, could be used to identify areas which may face pressure on intensive care resources.
Environmental data can play a key role in managing resources and behaviours in tackling COVID-19 and a number of studies including those underway by Cranfield University, are investigating this, for example Dr Zhugen Yang’s work looking at whether wastewater can be used to monitor incidences of COVID-19.
The collaborative digital events are being funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and are being led by its Digital Environment Champions, Cranfield University’s Professor Ron Corstanje and Dr Stephen Hallett.
“This digital sprint will enable scientists, from across the world, to rapidly develop their ideas and turn them into practical digital solutions that can be deployed urgently,” says Professor Ron Corstanje, Professor of Environmental Data Science and Head of the Centre for Environmental and Agricultural Informatics, at Cranfield University. “As the world starts to focus on a potential second wave of COVID-19, environmental data can provide a vital early-warning system, enabling better decision-making and deployment of resources.”
Professor Neil Harris, Professor of Atmospheric Informatics at Cranfield University, added: “Understanding the spread of COVID-19 by applying data analytics approaches and bringing together data on air quality with those on human activity, such as traffic and industry, will allow us to develop better tools to manage the next steps of the pandemic, by improving knowledge of the environmental factors that can increase people’s risk to infection. For example, it might bring out in more detail the relationship between particulate matter and the pre-disposition to COVID-19 infection, as well as to its transmission.”
To sign-up for the digital sprint events, visit https://digitalenvironment.org