EPICO19 project kicks off: the European Space Agency co-funds a multidisciplinary consortium of Italian excellence companies for COVID emergency response in Italy.

 

The consortium composed by TerrAria s.r.l., Studiomapp s.r.l. and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) was among the winners of a call for projects in response to the Covid-19 emergency in Europe promoted by the European Space Agency (ESA), in collaboration with the Italian Ministry for Technological Innovation and Digitization and supported by the Italian Space Agency. The initiative was launched in April 2020 during the first wave of COVID-19 infections. During that period of great hardships in emergency management, the institutions have promoted the program called “Space in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak” by co-financing pilot projects to support the response and management of the pandemic thanks to the application of innovative geospatial technologies.

The project proposed by the consortium, called EPICO19 (acronym for Epidemiological and logistic COVID model), will last one year and will focus on the Reggio Emilia area, in close collaboration with the Local Health Authority of Reggio Emilia (AUSL). The great added value of the proposed solution will be the integration within a platform developed by TerrAria of information derived from space technologies, including the analysis of air pollution and a mobility index derived from satellite images (thanks to the algorithms of Studiomapp, already awarded by Pentagon and NCI Agency), with the expertise in environmental epidemiology and preventive medicine already used during these months for the analysis of COVID-19 by the UNIMORE Research Unit, in collaboration with researchers from other European and U.S. institutions and from TerrAria.

EPICO19 is a web application designed to support public health technicians and decision-makers for the planning of health resources, offering map -based support displaying cases, hospitalizations and deaths according to the structure and vulnerability of the population. The aim is to help the definition and ex-ante evaluation of restriction policies and containment of contagion.

 

Information on consortium partners

TerrAria (www.terraria.com) is an innovative SME active in Milan since 1999, a leader in the implementation of Research and Development projects that provide territorial information and decision support systems (DSS) related to atmospheric/health/climatic impact assessments and energy emission reports . TerrAria, as main contractor, in the EPICO19 project will deal with the development of the innovative IT platform to support public health technicians in forecasting the main indexes of the pandemic and in evaluating the effectiveness of preventive policies against the contagion spread.

Studiomapp (www.studiomapp.com) is an innovative startup founded in 2015 based in Ravenna and Rome specializing in artificial intelligence applied to geointelligence, i.e. the collection and analysis of information derived from satellite images. In March 2020 it was the first European entity to publish a research on the effects and impact of restrictions in Milan from satellite images, with the use of proprietary artificial intelligence technology (already awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense and NATO Communication and Information Agency). In the EPICO19 project Studiomapp will analyze satellite images in order to extract mobility information in support of the epidemiological model.

The University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE – www.unimore.it) will contribute to the development of the EPICO19 project through the epidemiological and sanitary expertise of its Public Health Section, part of the Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neuroscience Sciences (recognized as ‘Department of Excellence’ by the Ministry of University for the biomedical area). In particular, UNIMORE researchers will contribute to the project studying the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the spread of the COVID-19 disease in the province of Reggio Emilia during the period March-October 2020, as well as the definition of forecasting models of possible new waves of infection based on the type of resident population and the spread characteristics of the airborne transmission epidemic, including in the assessment also the effect of environmental factors such as air pollution from vehicle traffic.