AFI DSI COVID-19 Research Group

About Us

We are an interdisciplinary coalition hosted by the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute, with partners from UW-Madison, local and state government, industry, and other academic institutions.

There is an urgent need to develop models that can inform policy makers, as well as the general public, in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The White House has issued an Executive Order that includes the gathering, sharing, and publication of COVID-19 data “to facilitate informed community decision-making, to further public understanding of the pandemic and the response, and to deter the spread of misinformation and disinformation.” We are committed to sharing our own data models and visualizations, as well as those shared by other institutions and news organizations. Use the menu at the right to explore models curated locally and globally, and to read stories highlighting the work of our community.

The work of our group has shifted from model projections to advising teams on the best use of data, including:

University Health Services (UHS) monitoring of high-volume campus COVID-19 testing: Advise UHS on analysis and visualization of testing results, as well as automated detection of campus (super)spreader events using Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Passive surveillance of COVID-19 on campus and in the community: Measure WIFI density and proximity of mobile devices in campus buildings, and monitor wastewater for COVID signals at the Lakeshore and Sellery dorms on campus and at five regions across Madison. Our collaboration with the State Lab of Hygiene on wastewater surveillance extends to measurements across the state, and to detection of COVID-19 variants.

Wisconsin vaccination distribution logistics with DHS and National Guard: Develop optimization models for scheduling weekly vaccine distribution and identify ways to assess the fairness of these models for underrepresented populations and geographies

Read more about our goals for interpreting, modeling and messaging data in our COVID-19 Data Research Charter.

Going the Distance Together

The COVID-19 pandemic is a complex medical and sociological event: data have biases that make interpretation tricky, and models are limited by assumptions and data. That said, we know mitigation strategies including masking and physical distancing (also labeled social distancing) make a difference. If we all do our part and stay apart, we can go the distance together.  Be positive, stay negative.

Learn more about how UW-Madison is supporting public health and the people of Wisconsin during this pandemic at the UW-Madison COVID-19 Impact site.

Funding opportunities

MIDAS Network: Funding announcements for COVID-19 modeling research

School of Medicine and Public Health: Funding opportunities related to COVID-19 (includes information on dealing with grant interruptions and delays due to COVID)

Research and Sponsored Programs: COVID-19 updates related to sponsored programs

InfoEd Global: COVID-19 research-related funding opportunties

Data Science Stories


Understanding a global pandemic requires creating community around studying it and making any discovery understandable for the public. It’s an aim of our group, and other collaborative efforts around understanding the effects of COVID-19 are popping up around the world.

Media stories highlighting the contributions of our team members

Webinars and presentations

Other resources

Data science can contribute to helping the world navigate and understand how to mitigate this pandemic. We’re featuring some stories that highlight data science’s role in prevention, mitigation, and relief efforts.