Reich Delivers Series of Keynote Talks on COVID-19 Forecasting

Nicholas Reich, associate professor of biostatistics, has been an invited speaker at three June research conferences held by the National Academies of Sciences; Engineering and Medicine; the international organization Forecasting for Social Good (4FSG); and the International Institute of Forecasters.

Nicholas Reich
Nicholas Reich

The director of the CDC-funded COVID-19 Forecast Hub and the Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, Reich leads a team of researchers whose ensemble model infectious disease forecasts have been among the nation’s most reliable at predicting COVID-19 deaths. His expertise has placed him in high demand among federal agencies, data science researchers, and national media.

On June 10, Reich delivered a talk tilted “The Past, Present, and Future of Infectious Disease Forecasting” at the National Academies Symposium on Data Collection and Integration to Enhance Public Health. The symposium explored how the latest statistics and data science methods can help address public health issues ranging from pandemics to human trafficking. Speakers discussed how their work in modeling, inference, predictive analysis, and machine learning has been applied to track the spread of COVID-19, drug use, air pollution, and human trafficking. Panelists also explored the strengths and weaknesses of available surveillance data and how to integrate and draw insight from multiple imperfect data sources. Learn more here.

Reich discussed his work “Building the COVID-19 Forecast Hub” at the International Workshop on Forecasting for Social Good, or F4SG 2021, on June 24, 2021. The US COVID-19 Forecast Hub is a collaborative effort of infectious disease modeling teams from across the world who have made forecasts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Launched in March 2020, the Hub has aggregated over 200m rows of forecast data from over 90 different models. The ensemble forecast generated each week by the Hub is used as the official forecast of the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Reich’s talk described the process of building and maintaining the Hub, from the data model used to represent forecasts, to the community-building aspects of incentivizing and recruiting dozens to teams, and the statistical challenges in building and evaluating an ensemble forecast in real-time.

F4SG 2021 sought to improve the research and practice in issues related to forecasting for social good by: facilitating interactions between practitioners, researchers, and policy makers to develop a cohesive and sustainable network of international collaborations with a focus on issues related to forecasting for social good; promoting the development of new methodology and metrics to address the specific challenges related to forecasting for social good; providing professional development to policy makers; gaining a better understanding of the available data, challenges in data acquisition, and the uncertainty present in the data used to produce forecasts; and, addressing the ethical issues related to the use of forecasting methods for problems that impact society. Learn more here.

On June 29, 2021, Reich will deliver a keynote talk titled “The Computational Science of Infectious Disease Forecasting” at the 41st International Symposium on Forecasting. His talk will provide results from the COVID-19 Forecast Hub and the Influenza Forecasting Center of Excellence, as well as survey the current state of outbreak forecasting, highlight limitations to current epidemiological data and modeling approaches, and identify opportunities for future innovation.

The International Symposium on Forecasting (ISF) is the premier forecasting conference, attracting the world’s leading forecasting researchers, practitioners, and students. Through a combination of keynote speaker presentations, academic sessions, workshops, and social programs, the ISF provides many excellent opportunities for networking, learning, and fun. Learn more here.