Welcome to the CIVIC Program

About the project

Respiratory Disease detection and prediction

Respiratory diseases such as COVID, Influenza and COPD are deadly. Yet, the true number and location of respiratory disease cases often remains hidden from official statistics. This is because such disease disproportionally hospitalizes vulnerable demographics across the UK, with those able to self-medicate simply doing so – and getting on with their lives. Because true incidence unrecorded, decision makers often have to act in the dark, outbreaks cannot be detected ahead of time, and valuable health resources can be incorrectly allocated. The UKRI’s CIVIC program aims to address this.

The CIVIC Program & Shopping Data

CIVIC a first-of-its-kind partnership between Leading UK academics, the NHS, and major UK Health Retailers committed to transforming UK resilience. CIVIC is based on a single observation – that hidden disease incidence is detectable, even at community levels, through simple signals such as over-the-counter medication sales (e.g. cough mixture, decongestant and pain relief purchases). Working with over 1.5 billion medication sales logs aggregated at community levels, CIVIC asks the following key questions:

    ◼ To what extent can we detect unrecorded cases of Respiratory disease across UK neighbourhoods using AI to analyse sales data?

      ◼ Can we predict disease outbreaks ahead of time using medication sales data, in order to support early-warning systems at scale?

        ◼ What insights can such datasets give us on the impact of COVID to vulnerable, potentially hidden, communities (e.g. food poverty) to help long-term intervention strategies?

          ◼ By working with consenting individuals via “data donation”, can we identify antecedents Respiratory illness in their purchasing trajectories?

Findings & Outputs

The CIVIC programme commenced its research in February 2021, and by January 2022 had been able to evidence the marked effectiveness of modelling respiratory disease via over-the-counter medication purchase data (i.e. self-medication products):

◼ CIVIC’s AI models (built in partnership with NHS-X/Boots) accurately predicted Respiratory Mortality over 17 days in advance every week between 2016-2020 in every on of the UK’s 314 local authorities (R2=0.78***). These results reflect significant advances in fidelity and preparation time (NHS). more >>

◼ When applied to COVID-19 (2020-21), expected to be far more challenging, CIVIC’s XGBoost models accurately predicted mortality over 21 days in advance (R2=0.71***) again at local-area levels – far outperforming models based on official case data alone (R2=0.44**) as used in traditional epidemiological models. more >>

◼ Work undertaken with both OLIO (Food Sharing app) and Co-op Ltd, have shown the ability to examine impact to vulnerable communities of outbreaks at neighbourhood levels. Interfaces being piloted with Havering County Council, London, and expanded to other councils through support from Guy and St. Thomas. more >>

Further details, and information to generated research papers/outputs are reported below: Continue reading “Findings & Outputs”

Program Team

This CIVIC project began as a collaboration between the University of Nottingham, University of Bristol and Imperial College London, supported by NHS-X and retail partners OLIO and Boots UK

Due to the success that CIVIC had in evidencing the remarkable power of medication purchase data to reveal hidden UK disease incidence, especially within vulnerable communities, the team has since expanded to include further world-leading academic expertise at University College London and University of Leicester. The consortia of retail stakeholders committed to protecting the UK from future pandemics has also expanded, including Co-operative Group, Alliance Healthcare and Walgreen Boots Alliance.

Dr James Goulding
Associate Professor,  AI/Data Analytics, University of Nottingham
Dr Anya Skatova
UKRI Future Leader, Behavioural Science, University of Bristol
Prof Nic Timpson
Professor of Genomics, ALSPAC, Bristol Medical School
Dr James Flanagan
Reader in Epigenetics, Imperial College London
Dr John Harvey
Associate Professor,  Economic Networks, University of Nottingham
Prof Markus Owen
Professor of Biological Statistics, University of Nottingham
Elizabeth Dolan
PhD Researcher, Horizon Digital Economy Research / N-LAB, UoN

And additionally… Continue reading “Program Team”

Data Donation

Please return shortly for more information about Data donation, or see the team that formed around the issues as an output of the CIVIC programme here: