Coronavirus: Amazon, Microsoft and Palantir to aid NHS data analysis, says report

Data collected via NHS's helpine will be combined with information and analysed in order to determine how best to use resources, according to reports.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

Big technology companies are set to aid the UK's National Health Service (NHS) combat coronavirus by analysing data to determine where resources including ventilators, hospital beds and doctors will be needed most.

According to a report by the BBC, Amazon, Microsoft and Palantir will be part of the effort, as well as Faculty AI, a London-based company that specialises in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The plan will see anonymised data collected via the NHS's 111 telephone helpline service combined with other sources of data to determine potential geographical hotspots for coronavirus and where resources may be needed next.

Amazon Web Services will provide cloud-computing resources, while Microsoft Azure is said to have built a "gigantic" data store to help the project.

SEE: Sensor'd enterprise: IoT, ML, and big data (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Palantir – a big-data analytics company co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel – will provide software to draw different data sources together. Faculty AI's involvement hasn't been detailed, but it previously worked with the Home Office to detect extremist content online and across social networks.

Using data analytics software, the aim of the project is to provide the NHS with interactive visual dashboards bringing together data from disparate sources in order to provide staff with the best information possible.

That data will include what ventilators are being used and where, current levels of staff sickness, patient occupancy levels of hospitals including the number of beds available, capacity of A&E departments and the length of time COVID-19 patients are required to stay at the hospital.

By using this information, it's hoped that government and hospitals will be able to understand how the virus is spreading, increase resources in areas the virus is expected to spread, ensure critical equipment is required in the areas with the greatest need and direct patients to the hospitals that are best able to treat when based on resourcing, demand and staff availability.

SEE: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

ZDNet attempted to contact all four companies, but at the time of publication has not received a response.

Such a project may raise privacy concerns, but according to the BBC report, the NHS intends to ensure that data involved can't be tracked back to any individuals and that once the coronavirus crisis is over, all records will be destroyed.

Editorial standards