COVID-19 Data Science Challenges 2021

A Series of Global COVID-19 Data Science Challenges

Why the COVID-19 Data Science Challenges 2021?

In 2020, the IronHacks team launched the COVID-19 Data Science Challenges as a unique opportunities for aspiring data scientists to “hack the pandemic”. With the lockdown starting in 2020, COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives and social activity. The August 2020 and the Fall 2020 data science challenges encouraged data scientists at Purdue and other institutions to help governments and corporations understand the economic and social impact of COVID-19 in 2020. You can read more about those challenges here. In 2021, this exciting series continues giving data scientists around the world the opportunity to making societal impact while using and improving their data science skills. There are a significant reasons why this series continues…

In 2021, COVID-19 is continuing to impact our lives in many ways. As citizens get vaccinated and governmental restrictions are lifted, citizens have started to increase their social activity: they start to travel, visit stores to shop, eat out, and attend public events like football games. An increase of social activity can indicate a normalization of daily routines and economic activity. However, as long as we haven’t reached herd immunity, there is still a risk that the virus spreads - particularly in closed buildings and locations like restaurants where the transmition rate is much higher (see CDC). The surge of COVID-19 cases in Michigan in Spring 2021 illustrates th is inherent risk. Despite the increase in vaccination, the virus and new variants are spreading (see CDC). Places like restaurants pose a particularily high risk. Citizens, governments, and corporations need to have a good understanding of the vaccination trends as well as social movement activities. We have decided to continue our data science challenges in 2021, inviting people with data science interest and skills to solve cloud-based data science challenges. IronHacks will run multiple challenges on important topics like predicting visits at restaurants in densily populated counties in Indiana, monitoring vaccination levels, and so on.

What are the COVID-19 Data Science Challenges in about?

We have currently planned to run two challenges:

  1. COVID-19 Data Science Challenge Spring-Summer 2021: Predicting visits at restaurants in Tippecanoe and Marion County, Indiana using real-time data. Wondering if and where you should eat out when visiting Indianpolis or Purdue University? This data science challenge will ask participants to predict the weekly foot traffic at restaurants in Tippecanoe and Marion County, Indiana. We preprocessed large, actual, granular datasets from our partners (e.g. SafeGraph) and we will stream them in real-time so that you can work with almost real-time data. This is challenge that will run for 2 months offering participants the opportunity learn while working with real-time data. There are multiple submission opportunities but only the two best submission count for the final scoring. The submission should contain predictive statistical models as well as visualizations. This long-term hack is a unique opportunity to help citizens like as well as owners of small business and governments make critical decisions.
  2. COVID-19 Data Science Challenge Summer 2021: Monitoring and Comparing Unemployment Levels in the State of Indiana.

If you sign-up to our platform, you can follow along about updates and new challenges.

How will participants be evaluated?

In past competitions, each participant’s notebook was evaluated in several dimensions with a focus on learning, exploration and creativity. So in this respect IronHacks is different from other competitions that are only focused on performance only. Examples are:

  • The accuracy of your analysis (e.g. the prediction accuray measured with the mean squared error or the correct descriptive analysis for a simpler challenge).
  • Your learning effort and creativity in exploring a variety of different data and modles
  • The usefulness of the presentation and interpretation of your data/models in a final interactive report (including data visualization)

More details on the evaluation criteria will be released at the start of the competition.

What is the timeline?

Data Science Challenge Spring-Summer 2021

This challenge opens for registration on Spring 2021. There are multiple submission opportunities, at which your solution will be scored in real-time. The last date to accept the rules is June 2, 2021. More details can be found after the registration to the challenge on

Data Science Challenge Summer 2021

This challenge will opens in the beginning of June and will run for at least 4 weeks. This challenge will be set-up in collaboration with the department of workforce development and will focus on unemployment trends.

Who is eligible?

Everybody who:

  1. speaks English
  2. is older than 16 years and
  3. has programming skills in Python

So what are you waiting for?

Why should you participate?

There are range of reasons why you should take up the challenge.

  • Prizes: Most of our challenges have prizes for the best individuals as well as the best teams. For example, in the Spring-Summer Challenge 2021 we will reward the top 5 submissions with Amazon giftcards. The rank will be based on the quality (accuracy) as well as the exploration effort/creativity of the participant submission. The total prize money varies and can range up to $5000.
  • Certificates: Every participant will receive a digital certificate for participation with logos of the sponsors.
  • Showcases: We will share the best solutions on their website.
  • Fellowship opportunity: Selected participants will have the opportunity to discuss a fellowship at RCODI
  • Publication: The winners of the award will be invited to co-publish a paper with the IronHacks team
  • Learning experience: As we have learned from prior participants, the iterative IronHacks process (see more here) combined with the tools and features of the IronHacks platform offers a unique learning experience that is distinct from those you might have experienced on other sites (e.g.

And do not forget - your contribution is essential to fight this pandemic.

Check out what others are saying:

“The excitement to know how my model would perform after every round kept me enthused till the end! These predictions can give insights into social distancing norms and implement necessary precautions."

Feny Patel (Purdue University), 1st Place August 2020 Challenge

“My greatest experience was being able to try on algorithms I never use. I also had the freedom to experiment, instead of defaulting to certain known models due to crunching code within 24 hours like typical hackathons."

Harsha Pavuluri (Purdue University), 2nd Place August 2020 Challenge

What are you waiting for? Get started…

  1. Sign-up on our platform.

  2. Register for the upcoming challenge.

  3. Send us a note if you have questions here