Google has announced the launch of the COVID-19 Public Datasets program in an effort to help fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. This program will host a repository of public data sets that relate to the crisis and make them free to access and analyze.
The idea behind the COVID-19 Public Datasets program by Google is to eliminate barriers and provide quick and easy access to critical information for researchers and thus eliminates the need to search for and on-board large data files.
The corpora within the COVID-19 Public Datasets program include OpenStreetMap data, Global Health Data from the World Bank, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE) data set, all of which are stored on Google Cloud for free. The data sets have a “COVID-19” label, several sample queries, and a description and they are searchable from the Google Cloud Console Marketplace and from the BigQuery UI with the tag “freebqcovid.”
Researchers can make use of BigQuery ML, Google’s service that lets users create and execute machine learning models in BigQuery (a fully managed data warehouse) using SQL queries. It can also be used to train machine learning models on COVID-19 data sets.
Queries are free and they would remain free until September 15, 2020. However, Google noted that the bytes processed will be counted against the free tier – BigQuery Sandbox (that has monthly 10GB storage and 1 TB query limits) – and then charged accordingly to prevent abuse, if any of the data sets are joined with non-COVID-19 data sets.
BigQuery product manager and GIS lead Chad W. Jennings and developer advocate Shane Glass in a blog post that the contents of these datasets are provided to the public strictly for educational and research purposes only, [but] we on the Google Cloud team sincerely hope that the COVID-19 Public Dataset Program will enable better and faster research to combat the spread of this disease.
The debut of the COVID-19 Public Datasets program follows many other coronavirus mitigation efforts by Google.
The search engine giant donated $800 million in ads and loans to organizations fighting the virus. It partnered with Microsoft and Palantir to build a dashboard for the U.K.’s National Health Service and added a coronavirus tips Google Assistant shortcut. Conversely, a dedicated page and search portal was launched by Google to collate resources about COVID-19, and Alphabet – the tech giant’s parent company — ramped up a screening program within the Bay Area.