The GovLab and the Knight Foundation to Create The #Data4Covid19 Review

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BROOKLYN, New York, Friday, March 11, 2022 — The Governance Lab (The GovLab), an action research center at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, with the support of the Knight Foundation, today announced the launch of The #Data4Covid19 Review. Through this initiative, The GovLab will evaluate how select countries used data to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings will be used to identify lessons that can be applied to future data-driven crisis management.

The initiative launches within the context of the 2nd anniversary of the announcement that COVID-19 was a global pandemic and the resulting lockdown restrictions. Countries around the world have since undertaken varied approaches to minimizing the spread of the virus and managing the aftermath. Many of these efforts are driven by data. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a global challenge, there have been few attempts to review and evaluate how data use played a role holistically in the global pandemic response.

The #Data4Covid19 Review aims to fill this gap in the current research by providing an assessment of how data was used during the different waves of the pandemic and guidance for the improvement of future data systems. The GovLab will develop case studies and compare a select group of countries from around the world, with the input and support of a distinguished advisory group of public health, technology, and human rights experts. These case studies will investigate how data use impacted COVID-19 responses. Outputs will include recommendations for decision makers looking to improve their capacity to use data in a responsible way for crisis management and an assessment framework that could be used when designing future data-driven crisis response. By learning from our response to the pandemic, we can better understand how the use of data should be used in crisis management.

An advisory group with expertise in several domains including civic engagement, data science, public health, technology, and social innovation will guide this work:

  • Dr. Caroline Buckee, Professor of Epidemiology, and the Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health;
  • Dr. Ciro Cattuto, Principal Scientist at ISI Foundation, Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department of the University of Torino;
  • Dr. Leo Ferres, Associate Research Professor, Data Science Institute, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad del Desarrollo;
  • Dr. Chinwe Lucia Ochu, Director, Prevention Programmes & Knowledge Management and Head of Research at Nigeria Centre for Disease Control;
  • Dr. Nuria Oliver, Scientific Director and Co-Founder of ELLIS Alicante Foundation, Chief Data Scientist at the Data-Pop Alliance, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Vodafone Institute, Board Member at ELLIS, Fellow at the Spanish Royal Academy of Engineering, Member of the Industrial Advisory Board at King’s College;
  • Sir Geoff Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at University College London; and
  • More to be determined.

“Though the use of data has rapidly accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are significant gaps in our knowledge of the impact of such initiatives. By designing an evaluative methodology for COVID-19 data programs, we hope to provide the framework to help government leaders become better data-prepared for the next crisis.” Said Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder and chief research and development officer of The GovLab.

“Data allows us to be one step ahead in mitigating or solving current and future challenges we face in communities,” said Lilian Coral, Knight’s director for national strategy and technology innovation. “Gov Lab’s #Data4Covid19 Review will help us understand the lessons that the pandemic brought to bear about what data is useful, how we collect and share data with the public and what investments need to be made to rise to any future challenges. Philanthropy, community leaders and public officials have much to learn to make more informed and impactful choices that ensure an equitable recovery as communities across the country emerge from the pandemic, and for long-term community building.”

Additional information about this project will be published in the coming weeks. Interested parties are invited to subscribe to Data Stewards Newsletter, visit our, or contact Stefaan Verhulst, lead of this work at


About The Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering

The Governance Lab’s mission is to improve people’s lives by changing the way we govern. Our goal at The GovLab is to strengthen the ability of institutions — including but not limited to governments — and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science, can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government. For more information, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

As social investors, the Knight Foundation supports democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Knight’s investments in support of Smart Cities seek to harness the application of digital technology to foster more informed and engaged communities. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media.




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