In the Spotlight - Alex Smola, Senior Head of Science




Two weeks ago, we shared a post regarding the University of Edinburgh COVID challenge, where students from all around the UK of all disciplines will work in teams online to help mitigate the economic, social and of course medical impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

We'd like to extend a huge congratulations to our very own Alex Smola, Head of Science for the 2019-20 year, and his team, Alexandre Shinebourne and Will Rowse, for winning the University of Edinburgh COVID challenge.

Alex's team proposed an app solution called Urbani, named after, an Italian epidemiologist (expert in parasitic infections), that allowed users to better plan their movements in the pandemic by providing information on the symptom count in a given local area.


Their proposed solution called Urbani, is a mobile app that allows users to plan their movements in order to avoid places/areas where many individuals have reported having contracted symptoms in the past 48hr areas with a potentially high density of viral particles.


The app also allows users to declare if they have symptoms with a step-by-step guide which generates an 'epidemic monitoring map' which is elaborated below. This data provides the general public, the government and researches with a more accurate picture of the epidemic status and viral propagation.

The cumulative number of people reporting to have symptoms also gives a potentially additional accuracy determinant for the total amount of cases in the country. Their solution is especially helpful for vulnerable groups like the elderly to better plan their trips to avoid areas with a high symptom count.

The app was inspired by Urbani, an Italian epidemiologist (expert in parasitic infections) who worked in the WHO Country Office in Hanoi at the time that SARs, a highly infectious and lethal disease started to spread.


A massive congratulations to the entire team for their efforts!

Click this link to view their project:…/16opg5AftyxtV12S_ZG2Opvb5r…/view…

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