Imperial College London

Take the Typo Challenge to help fight the next epidemic


Imperial researchers lead the launch of an online challenge to improve data collected on epidemics like Ebola, Zika and swine flu.

Controlling epidemics relies on key decisions, like how many hospital beds are needed and who should be vaccinated or treated first. These decisions rely on data about people who are infected, but mistakes can be made when entering information, which can lead to incorrect decisions being made.

The ‘Typo Challenge’, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Public Health England, aims to harness the power of thousands of public contributions to inform a tool that will automatically identify and correct these mistakes.

Better data will lead to better decisions

The tool the team hope to develop will allow researchers to analyse more accurate data about epidemics immediately after it is collected, leading to better decisions being made. This in turn could help control the next big epidemic and ultimately contribute to saving lives.

“We want to understand what errors are made when people enter dates in health records, so we created the 'Typo Challenge' to mimic the behaviour of people who collect data in the field.” said Dr Anne Cori, from Imperial’s School of Public Health.

“Once we have enough data from the challenge, we plan to develop a prototype into a working version within six to 12 months. We’ll then be able to test on real data from past epidemics, before publishing the results.” said Dr Marc Baguelin, from Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Take the Typo Challenge now!

The Typo Challenge is open from 8 October to 18 November 2018 to anyone over the age of 18. Challengers can take part on their phones or computers and do as much or as little as they want: the more dates people type, the more information the team will have to understand the errors made.

“We are aiming for a minimum of 20,000 data entries by mid-November, but a larger number will only help improve the tool, so we want as many people as possible to take up the Typo Challenge.” added Dr Cori.

Find out more about the Typo Challenge over on the Imperial Medicine Blog.  

The Typo Challenge has been sponsored by:



Mr Al McCartney

Mr Al McCartney
Faculty of Medicine Centre

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Public-health, Infectious-diseases
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