Episode Summary

When the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world in early 2020, Spain was one of the countries hardest hit. At the time, Nuria Oliver was a telecommunications engineer working and living in Valencia, one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions. She’d spent years working for companies like Microsoft, Telefonica, and Vodafone, using AI to analyze data from mobile networks to explore big questions about healthcare, economics, crime, and other issues—so she realized right away that mobile data could be an important tool for government leaders and public health officials trying to get a handle on the spread of COVID-19. With the backing of Valencia's president, Oliver put together a team of scientists to analyze network data to understand among other things, how much people in Spain were moving around. That helped them predict infection rates, and to see whether lockdowns were really helping to contain the virus's spread. The team's predictions were so accurate, in fact, that when they entered an X Prize Foundation contest seeking the best AI-based pandemic response systems, they won first place. Nuria Oliver joins Harry to explain how they did it—and why mobile data makes a difference in the fight against the pandemic and other health threats.


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