Lumina, a predictive analytics firm in Tampa, is putting its artificial intelligence-driven platform and crowd-sourcing app to work to help government officials and healthcare providers predict the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.
It’s a task ideally suited for the company, founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneur Allan Martin and data scientist Morten Middelfart. Lumina was established to use artificial intelligence as a force for good, to identify risks and threats, and to help people protect themselves, Martin said.
The coronavirus crisis presents the kind of problems where Lumina can add value, he said.
“We’re working diligently on this crisis to assist with solutions using predictive data analytics, showing where the crisis is moving as opposed to only working on trailing indicators. We can see where it’s been, but how do we predict where it is going in a meaningful way,” Martin, who is CEO, told the St. Pete Catalyst.
The company’s platform, Radiance, is a search engine enabled by a super computer. Radiance scours publicly available data on the internet, doing hundreds of thousands of searches simultaneously. Using a proprietary approach dubbed behavioral affinity models, or BAM, Lumina shows the system examples of data it wants to identify — including trigger words about coronavirus symptoms — as well as data it does not want to identify.
“We train our system to understand how it looks when the virus is there, versus how it looks when the virus is not there. That’s how you create a behavioral affinity model. Then we would be able to run names of areas or hospital through our system and we would be able to see what is indicative of a strong presence and where it is not present,” said Middelfart, who is Lumina’s chief data scientist.
Lumina has reconfigured its crowdsourcing app S4 to allow users to report coronavirus symptoms. S4 stands for “see something say something” and originally was designed to allow users to report potential community violence.
Lumina has not yet uploaded the reconfigured app, but when it does, the first thing a user will see when they open the app is a checklist of symptoms. Users can hit an alert, sending those symptoms to Lumina. Users also will have the option to report their geographic location. If they do so, they are providing a societal service, Middelfart said.
“We can predict the rings in the water surrounding that person with symptoms. If multiple people are reporting at the same time that gives us another degree of predictability,” he said.
Lumina has been developing the BAM and refining it for about two weeks and hopes to see the state government put it to use, Martin said.
“We’ve put together a robust proposal for aggregate use of this whole system. We started that with the state of Florida. We’re working with the governor’s office, particularly on one element of it,” Martin said. “It is a robust predictive solution and comprehensive. It’s up and running. The effectiveness of the BAM is measurable and good.”
Lumina also has reached out to other governors and to the government in Australia, a country that takes an aggressive approach to data, Martin said.
Understanding what’s happening with coronavirus won’t be a short-term endeavor, Martin said.
“It would not be unexpected for this to potentially circle the world twice. We might be dealing with this for 18 months or so, depending on the seasonality of the spread, Martin said. “As the world wants to go back to business, we’re going to need to track this virus and be able to predict where it’s moving and when it’s coming back with a vengeance to avoid a double hump situation, which is what happened during the Spanish influenza of 1918-1919. So we don’t see this as a short-term tracking event. We see this as something we’re going to be doing for a year to two years.”
Lumina is inspired by the frontline workers and organizations that are standing up to the virus, and is trying to do its part, Middelfart said. The company has offered the services within its existing capacity for $1. The company has the capacity to expand to expand its services, but would have to charge more to do so, Martin said.
“We want to be part of the solution,” Martin said.