Open Data Impact Series V: Open Data and COVID 19

The Derilinx Open Data Impact Series promotes awareness, adoption and use of Open Data in different sectors, and supports the publication of high-quality Open Data. This fifth session of the Open Data Impact Series took place online on 23rd June 2020, organised by Derilinx in collaboration with the Open Data Unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. A panel of high-impact speakers presented on topics concerning managing the crisis, re-opening the economy and accelerating the digital transformation of public services. This was followed by a facilitated discussion on Open Data and COVID-19 and questions from the audience.

We present a video of this event at the bottom of this page.

The pandemic has brought a new focus on our personal role in our own healthcare and that of our society with a new lens on data. Data and Open Data are key ingredients to how health systems, societies and economies can recover from this pandemic. These factors are significant for the coming months and years in how we can as societies recover and develop. What are the key learnings we need to take from the crisis for the future?

The Panel

Karl Friston – Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and leading neuroscientist at University College London, currently working on COVID-19 modelling presented  The Open Data user’s perspective on Covid 19 modelling

Neil O’Hare – Group Chief Information Officer (Children’s Health Ireland) and Professor of Health Informatics, University College Dublin presented Open Data, Covid 19 and transforming patient engagement

Jeanne Holm – Senior Tech Advisor at the City of Los Angeles and evangelist for Open Data presented Covid 19 Open Data to re-open our economies and addressing digital equality challenges

Speaker Biographies

Jeanne Holm works at the cross-section of civic innovation, open data, and education. She is the Deputy CIO and Mayor’s Senior Tech Advisor at the City of Los Angeles, working on issues ranging from homelessness to digital equity technology innovation, data and analytics, and public-private partnerships. As a senior consultant with the World Bank, she worked with governments throughout the world to build robust open data ecosystems and ensure transparency. She was the Evangelist for open data for the U.S. White House, leading collaboration and building communities on with the public, educators, developers, and international and state governments in using open government data. She was the Chief Knowledge Architect at NASA, driving innovation through social media, virtual worlds, gaming, and collaborative systems, including the award-winning NASA public portal ( She is a Fellow of the United Nations International Academy of Astronautics and Distinguished Instructor at UCLA, leads several start-ups on education and social justice, and has more than 130 publications on information systems, knowledge management, and innovation.

Karl Friston is best known for his inventions and innovations in brain imaging and theoretical neurobiology, which have made him the most highly cited neuroscientist in the world—and tipped for a Nobel Prize—but has recently been collaborating with an international group to quantify the scientific confidence in predictions that will allow us to safely resume moving about our cities and towns.

The question is not just whether his group’s model of COVID-19 will turn out to be useful to policy makers, but if his method of thinking is uniquely suited to what we now understand as the non-linear problems of the present pandemic. Friston creates models of complex hierarchical systems that change over time, like brains or pandemics.

A global pandemic is a complex problem. There are lots of data to consider, and the challenge is to know which are most informative for prediction. But this pandemic is a particularly uncertain phenomenon. As it moved from east to west, it affected neighbouring countries quite differently. And many infected with the virus appear completely asymptomatic, while others are quickly overcome with horrific and often fatal symptoms. How do you model something that presents more questions and uncertainty than answers?

Neil O’Hare is Group CIO for the National Children’s Hospital which is the largest singular investment in Irish healthcare and is set at the highest levels of digital ambitions. He is also Prof of Health Informatics (University College Dublin) and a member of Ireland’s Open Data Governance Board.
Having developed Digital and Data systems in a range of healthcare environments, and as a Physicist by background, he has had a strong emphasis on Data and informatics throughout his career to date including heading up many large implementation projects around clinical information systems, acting as advisor to the Department of Health and project management of a range of medical equipping projects. In 2007 he took up the role as Programme Lead on the National Integrated Medical Imaging System (NIMIS) Project for the Health Services Executive, Ireland. This is one of the largest single PACS / RIS solution implementations in the world and is a template for other health data systems.
In addition to the above Neil has held academic appointments in Dublin City University and Trinity College Dublin with research interests in health informatics, imaging and UV phototherapy dosimetry. He has over 50 peer reviewed publications and is a regular invited presenter at conferences. He is the current Chair of the Health Informatics Society of Ireland (HISI).


  1. Welcome and introductions
  2. Jeanne Holm: Covid 19 Open Data to re-open our economies and addressing digital equality challenges
  3. Karl Friston: The Open Data user’s perspective on Covid 19 modelling
  4. Neil O’Hare: Open Data, Covid 19 and transforming patient engagement
  5. Round table discussion
  6. Questions from the audience

Open Data in Ireland


The National Open Data Initiative in Ireland is led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and is a key part of reform activities aiming to build more open, transparent and accountable public governance in Ireland. Over 10,000 datasets are available on the Open Data Portal from a wide range of Public Sector publishers, including the Health Services Executive, the Central Statistics Office and Tusla.

Ireland has been highlighted as an Open Data Leader in Europe, ranking 1st for the third year running in the Open Data Maturity Report in terms of readiness and quality of data published, use, and impact.

The Open Data Strategy 2017-2022 builds on the substantial achievements of the Open Data Initiative and sets out a roadmap for the Initiative’s continued progress and development for the next five years.