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Brazil’s R Community is Vibrant and Active

By Blog, Events

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. The wealth of knowledge in the community and the drive to learn and improve is inspiring. We were able to talk to Adriano Belisario, program manager at School of Data Brazil (Open Knowledge Brazil) and associated researcher at MediaLab.UFRJ to find out more about the da R community in Brazil, how they are dealing with the pandemic, what trends are happening in R in Brazil, and how they are heading forward.

RC: What is the R community like in Brazil?

The R community in Brazil is very vibrant and generous. There are a lot of initiatives like meetups, events, open classes, and tutorials for people who want to learn to program in R. Personally, I would like to highlight three initiatives from the Brazilian community: R Ladies Brazil, Curso-R, and R Brasil Telegram group.

In a country with so many levels of inequality, the R Ladies Brazil does an amazing work on making sure that R would be accessible to women and other underrepresented groups. Curso-R creates courses, free books, tutorials and a lot of excellent materials for those who use R in Brazil. They also have a YouTube channel that provides live streams, debates and live coding in Portuguese in R. Finally, the Telegram group has more than 2000 active members currently. It is a very active channel for the community, where people discuss, exchange information about events, support others with technical issues, and offer help to other users. 

RC: How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Since 2016, the School of Data Brazil has organized the Brazilian Conference on Data Journalism and Digital Methods (Coda.Br), the main event of this area in Latin America. This conference and most of our activities used to be in-person before COVID. The exception was an experience doing online courses (MOOCs) with the Knight Center for the Journalism in America (University of Texas), but since the beginning of the pandemic we needed to reinvent all of our methodologies, courses and community activities towards the online environment. Although we miss in person meetings, this change has allowed us to work with people all across Brazil. We had excellent results with the last conference, which was also supported by R Consortium.

RC: Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

Talking about Coda.Br and R-Ladies, I will mention the presentation of Gabriela de Queiroz on AI Bias. She introduced the topic explaining for a broad audience some critical implications of AI nowadays. In the talk, Gabriela presented the general issue of dealing with bias in data and went over how to mitigate these biases using open-sources programs. She introduced toolkits, software, and libraries that are used to address this problem, like Fairlearn, Lift, What-If Tool and AI Fairness 360.

RC: What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

Thinking about not only my organization, but the entire field of data journalism and the use of R language by journalists, I would say that with the general election for the government coming up, access to election data, governmental budget might be an important topic. While we have access, it is not always easy to query it. There is a lot of work in collecting, preparing, cleaning, and transforming the data so it can be analyzed for public use. That’s why the work done by initiatives such as Brasil.IO or Base dos Dados is so important. They offer open data well structured, cleaned and ready to use. The last one also has a package in CRAN. So we might see some impact in terms of academic research and data journalism, since it is becoming easier to realize more complex analysis merging several datasets. Finally, along with the election, environmental data will be important as climate change is an urgent topic globally and locally. In School of Data Brazil, we have created a course about environmental data journalism, in partnership with the Earth Journalism Network.

RC: Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members?  If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?

Since the School of Data is focused on data journalism and data literacy, there are a lot of people across the country in our network with experiences in these fields. We also have a membership program with hundreds of journalists, researchers and developers. The program offers benefits such as webinars, dedicated channels and free entry in Coda.Br, for those who support our activities through a fee, as we are a nonprofit organization.

Another way we support data journalists is through the Claudio Weber Abramo Award. This awareness recognizes and stimulates high-level excellence in data journalism in Brazil. The award and this open forum we’ve created help to highlight the best works in the country and keep the community engaged. One of the highlights of the Award is the fact that the summary of all subscriptions of the last edition are available on the website. 

RC: When is your next event? Please give details!

Our conference – Coda.Br – is going to be held online, November 8-13. Second online convention due to the pandemic.

RC: There are four projects that are R Consortium Top Level Projects. If you could add another project to this list for guaranteed funding for 3 years and a voting seat on the ISC, which project would you add?

I would love to see an effort to promote data literacy. Not just for journalists, but for everyone. We need to make sure that most people have access to the basic mindset to properly understand, analyze, and criticize data.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past 4 years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications

Checking in with R-Ladies Taipei

By Blog, Events
 Kristen Chan, R-Ladies Taipei organizer

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) is made to support R groups around the world by providing grants to help R groups organize, share information and support each other. Unlike many groups over this past year, the R groups in Taiwan did not have as long a disruption as other groups did. Can they provide a glimpse of how the rest of the world can hold regular meetings? Do they have a way to mix the wave of virtual meetings along with local meetings? We talked with Kristen Chan, current R-Ladies Taipei organizer, to find out more.

RC: What is the R community like in Taiwan?

In Taiwan, we have two R communities, one is R-Ladies Taipei which I host, and another one is Taiwan R user group. Both of the R communities promote and build up venues for friendly data discussion. We welcome talks on any data topics such as Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Data Analytics, Data Engineering, and meet every Monday night. The last Monday of every month is reserved for women.

RC: In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members?  

In Taiwan, at the very beginning of 2020, we stopped the face-to-face meetup and started thinking about how we can continue to maintain the meetup. But how lucky we are! Taiwan’s CDC has the pandemic under control, so we can do everything as normal. So we still have the regular meetup, but we require everyone to wear masks to protect each other during the event.

RC: Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

In October 2020 we held a satRday conference. It was the first time we had this satRday event and also it is the first one in Asia. And it was tough to make this conference happen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, we had invited Yihui Xie who works for RStudio to give us a wonderful talk. We are using the online meeting to make this happen. The topic is R Markdown. It was an interesting and unforgettable presentation because most of us don’t have the experience to talk to the author directly, so all the attendances were learned a lot.

Photo from satRday Taiwan, Oct 2020

RC: Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members? If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?

Yes, some of our members are reporters. They are learning R and some BI tools to help them deal with the data cleaning and make some graphs to let people know more about information. 

And we also have a community called “知了新聞 Cicadata.” It’s a community about data journalism and its goal is that they want the data journalism field more open. By the way, one of the founders of 知了新聞 is also Taiwan R user group’s current organizer.

RC: When is your next event? Please give details!

We are still planning the event. But I think we will have a series of beginner  tutorialmeetups to let more people know R.

RC: Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium, do you have a favorite project? Why is it your favorite?

My favorite project is “Consolidating R-Ladies Global organizational guidance and wisdom”. Because of the diversity issue, it touched me more. 

RC: Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite? Why is it your favorite?

My favorite is “Distributed Computing.” Because the data becomes bigger and we need to deal with that and also want to save some time, what we need is Distributed Computing.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past 4 years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications

Spectacularly Prescient – satRday South Africa Covered COVID Data Before Pandemic Hit

By Blog, Events

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. The wealth of knowledge in the community and the drive to learn and improve is inspiring. With the wide disruption of events due to COVID-19 this year, we are interested in how groups are getting on despite the disruption in normal communication. The pandemic has focused our interest to look at how we communicate both at conferences as well as communicating with people outside of the main events while navigating the new challenges that the pandemic has created.

We talked with Andrew Collier, Data Scientist, Fathom Data, and satRday conference organizer, to find out how the R community in South Africa is faring. 

RC: How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Well, we have run our conference for four years in succession. Actually, in 2020 we had the conference on the day that they announced the first official COVID case in South Africa. It was an in-person conference, but basically it was immediately before lockdown. That’s completely derailed our plans to do anything this year. I don’t really think I have the appetite for organizing an online conference. If I’m going to organize a conference I want to see people in the flesh.

That’s on the conference side, but as far as the meetups are concerned they are still soldiering on. Actually, I gave a talk for R-Ladies Cape Town towards the end of last year and they are still holding fairly regular meetings. It doesn’t seem to have a massive impact on them. If anything, I suspect that they are finding the logistics of organizing the meetings easier because they don’t have to organize a venue or eats or that kind of thing.

RC: How did the technology to connect change over the last year?

It varies. I know that we did the talks to R-Ladies Cape Town on Google Meet. But, I’ve also seen them using Zoom, and I’ve also seen them using Microsoft Teams as well. All kinds of platforms.

RC: Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

If I could pick out a talk I really enjoyed, and was spectacularly prescient at the time, it would be a talk at satRday last year where Robert Bennetto told us about COVID and what was going to happen before it happened!. So he had done a bunch of modeling, and everyone else was thinking “Hum, what’s the COVID thing all about,” and he stood up on stage and told us and within days what we had been told at the conference was our new reality. People didn’t see the relevance at the time, and they didn’t realize the enormity of what was about to happen.

RC: Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members?  If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?

I’m not aware of anyone who has been to the conference who is a data journalist. I have a couple of contacts in Cape Town who are data journalists but they don’t use R as their main platform. The other thing that I have seen a lot of journalists do is that they go so far in R but then they take it across to another tool … to tweak the presentation. Like take it across into inkscape, and then actually build the visualization in inkscape, which to my mind kinda defeats the object of having a reproducible system if component of it has to be done by hand.

RC: When is your next event? Please give details!

We don’t have any immediate plans. I don’t think we are doing it this year. February, March, April worked out to be a good time relative to school terms and public holidays and things. It was a time where we could find a weekend when most people didn’t have any commitments. And the rest of the year that tended to be tricky. If it was to happen again it would be the same time next year.

RC: On social distancing on possible future events

I would prefer not to do that, but I think that realistically we would have to. Unfortunately it does make social interactions more difficult.

RC: Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite?  Why is it your favorite?

The R-Ladies group is my favorite, and I am a little bit awed by how successful that group is. I have tried to run meetups myself, and it’s hard work. And it’s not particularly rewarding because at least where I live people will sign up for a meeting, and say I’m coming and on paper you’ll have 50 people coming to your meeting, and you’ll arrive having catered and only a few people arrive. I’m not exaggerating, that’s a realistic scenario. So, that’s a little bit disheartening. But the R-Ladies are well attended so, I don’t know what the secret sauce is, but it does work.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past 4 years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications!

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Joins R Consortium

By Announcement, Blog

GSK providing COVID era leadership, helping adoption of R Language as standard tool for pharmaceutical industry

SAN FRANCISCO, May 4, 2021 – The R Consortium, a Linux Foundation project supporting the R Foundation and worldwide R community, today announced that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has joined as a Silver Member. GSK is a multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in London, England. GSK manufactures products for major disease areas such as asthma, cancer, infections, diabetes and mental health. 

“R is not just an alternative programming language.  Through Rmarkdown and Shiny it has the potential to fundamentally change the way we report and share information within the industry.  It will help us make better decisions, faster; to the benefit of patients everywhere.  We have been actively contributing to the R Consortium Working Groups for quite some time and joining the R Consortium recognises the important role that the R Consortium has to play in shaping the future of R within the pharmaceutical industry,” said Andy Nicholls, Senior Director, Head of Statistical Data Sciences at GSK. “Joining as a Silver member shows our commitment to build a strong R Language infrastructure.”

“We have worked directly with GSK through the R Consortium Working Groups, and having GSK join the R Consortium as a Silver member is an exciting step forward that will positively impact how the R Language advances in the pharmaceutical sector,” said Joseph Rickert, RStudio’s R Community Ambassador and R Consortium Board Chair. “GSK leadership will help data analysis and visualization in the medical field immensely.”

The R Consortium has multiple separate Working Groups focused on pharmaceutical issues: RTRS (Tables), R Submissions (IT), Validation, and more. Participation in R Consortium Working Groups in the pharmaceutical space by GSK will help continue to expand their reach. The Working Groups add value to member companies by initiating and cultivating industry-wide collaborative projects. This is critical in the pharmaceutical industry, providing a framework for competitors to come together and cooperate under an open governance framework to build infrastructure at low-cost. To find out how you can join an R Consortium Working Group, see https://www.r-consortium.org/projects/isc-working-groups 

About GSK

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com/about-us.

About The R Consortium 

The R Consortium is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization and Linux Foundation project dedicated to the support and growth of the R user community. The R Consortium provides support to the R Foundation and to the greater R Community for projects that assist R package developers, provide documentation and training, facilitate the growth of the R Community and promote the use of the R language. For more information about R Consortium, please visit: http://www.r-consortium.org.

About Linux Foundation 

Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation projects like Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js and more are considered critical to the development of the world’s most important infrastructure. Its development methodology leverages established best practices and addresses the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration. For more information, please visit us at linuxfoundation.org

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Find out about the R Community in Zurich, Switzerland

By Blog, Events

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. The wealth of knowledge in the community and the drive to learn and improve is inspiring. We had a chance to talk with Muriel Buri, Statistical Scientist and organizer of Zurich R User Meetup, to find out more about the R community in Zurich, how they’re holding up during the pandemic, trends in R, and what the future holds. 

If you are interested in applying to the RUGS program for your organization, see the How do I Join? section at the end of this article.

RC: What is the R Community like in Zurich?

We started with the RUG in 2015 and by now we have just 2000 members. However, looking at Switzerland, there are smaller communities based in Lucerne and Bern and there is one R-Ladies group in Lausanne, which’s the French part of Switzerland. They all are a bit smaller, however, it’s a nice exchange between the groups and as you might be aware, the Zurich team is very much involved in organizing the Global User R Conference.

Zooming back in on the R community in Zurich, it’s a very diverse community. As mentioned, the Zurich RUG was founded in December 2015 and has been growing substantially since. The frequently organized Meetup events regularly gather a crowd of over 100 people and foster a very lively and intensive exchange among the R community in the Zurich region. The diversity regarding the applications of R, as well as the different occupations of the useRs in the community, such as data journalism, academic research, different insurances, official statistics, foundations, etc. are unique and outstanding characteristics of the Zurich R community.

The diversity is also what I enjoy the most at all these meetings. Not just having an exchange between the group you usually interact with, but having a broader exchange with different people, professions, levels of useRs, application fields, etc. To summarize, the community is very inclusive, and there is no such thing like a stupid question.

RC: How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

The Zurich RUG has shifted its focus a bit as many of the RUG members are now actively involved in the virtual global useR! 2021 conference. This has already started when we originally applied for the (planned) in-person useR! 2021 which has by now became the global virtual useR! 2021 conference. Hence, for me, it is challenging to distinguish between how COVID has affected us and how our engagement in the organisation of the useR! 2021 has affected our local activities.

At the start of the pandemic, we did not organise anything. After two or three months into the ‘lockdown’ (which in Switzerland was quite soft in comparison to other countries), the small group of the RUG Zurich organizers met in a park for lunch. At that time, I do recall that we all were a bit Zoom-fatigued. We then waited for a while and organised our first virtual event in October 2020. It was nice and many people attended it. However, what we always enjoyed best was having the beer part afterwards. Having this all virtual just wasn’t the same. It is very difficult to get that socializing part going in a virtual space.

Luckily, the Swiss R community is still active thanks to the Lucerne useR! group (@lucerne_r) which have actually started during the pandemic. They nicely promote their online events on Twitter, and we’d always retweet these tweets for our own community. It is nice to see that the community isn’t asleep.

RC: Can virtual technologies be used to make us more inclusive?

I personally do believe that virtual technologies do have the power to make us more inclusive, yes. As an example, the useR! 2021 conference will be the first R conference that is global by design, both in audience and leadership. Leveraging a diversity of experiences and backgrounds helps us to make the conference accessible and inclusive in as many ways as possible and to grow the global community of R users giving new talents access to this amazing ecosystem. New technologies make the conference more accessible to minoritized individuals and we strive to leverage that potential. Additionally, we pay special attention to the needs of people with a disability to ensure that they can attend and contribute to the conference as conveniently as possible. 

That being said, we will surely do our best to use these innovations also later within our own Zurich based community.

RC: Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

There is no specific presentation that I would like to highlight. To me it seems our audience always appreciates events with learning tutorials very much.


For example, we once had a presentation on Docker for R users. Another time, we were able to encourage Martin Mächler to give a talk. That was also really great. His presentation was entitled “What I find important in R programming and recent cool features in R.”

The way we often organize our meetups is that we will have one specific topic and two speakers presenting. As mentioned, the R community in Zurich is very heterogeneous so that we would for example have a financial theme for one meetup and would then look for a bank to sponsor and/or host our event. Or we’d have an insurance related topic and try to organise this event at an insurance company.

RC: What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

In the age of this pandemic, virtual meetups have become an indispensable tool for the community. Based on this, I was wondering if the local R community groups will still be as important as they used to be. It seems to me that the community is moving closer globally and even more (virtual) exchange is happening. 

The question of predicting a specific trend in R language affecting our organization over the next year is challenging. From my personal perspective, as I now work in the pharma industry, I see a big trend moving away from SAS towards R. With this, the promotion of friendly end-user Shiny Apps to present and discuss data analyses to people who are less familiar with the concepts is a big trend too.

RC: Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members? If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?

Yes, indeed, there are at least two members at Zurich RUG, Timo Grossenbacher (@grssnbchr) and Marie-José Kolly (@mjKolly). They have both presented their work at our meetups and the community has been very interested in their talks.

Marie-José writes data journalism articles for the Republik magazine in Zurich. One of her articles is about the protection of unborn life and the woman’s right to self-determination. The article allows for a visual journey through the weeks of pregnancy. The article is also nominated for the Swiss Press Award and can be accessed here (paywall, in German).

RC: Of the funded projects on R Consortium, what is your favorite project and why?

To be honest, I wasn’t aware that there are so many different funded projects on R Consortium. What a great effort!

The satRday conferences are events that I enjoy very much. The support of the R-Ladies groups is surely also a project that I personally like a lot.

RC: There are four projects that are R Consortium Top-Level Projects. If you could add another project to this list for guaranteed funding for 3 years and a voting seat on the ISC, which project would you add?

That is a challenging question. I worked myself in Uganda and taught statistics to veterinary medical doctors. R as an open-source program for statistical computing is fantastic as everyone with internet access can make use of it. I think I would personally promote more such projects to promote the growth of the global community of R users by advancing its accessible and inclusiveness. I’d initiate a project that promotes the global use of R. This vision is motivated by my experience of seeking sponsors for the global useR! 2021 conference. We did experience some challenges to gain access to all global communities, e.g. R is used in so many parts of the world but not everyone yet might be aware of the great resources, the worldwide community and the global exchange… Yes, I would suggest a project that pursues this vision.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past 4 years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute. We are now accepting applications

March 2021 ISC Call for Proposals – Now Open!

By Announcement, Blog

The deadline for submitting proposals is April 19, 2021.

The March 2021 ISC Call for Proposals is now open. The R Consortium’s Infrastructure Steering Committee (ISC) solicits progressive, pioneering projects that will benefit and serve the R community and ecosystem at large. The ISC’s goal is to foster innovation and help bring your ideas into tangible realities. 

Please consider applying!


Although there is no set theme for this round of proposals, grant proposals should be focused in scope. If you are currently working on a larger project, consider breaking it into smaller, more manageable subprojects for a given proposal. The ISC encourages you to “Think Big” but create reasonable milestones. The ISC favors grant proposals with meaningful detailed milestones and justifiable grant requests, so please include measurable objectives attached to project milestones, a team roster, and a detailed projection of how grant money would be allocated. Teams with detailed plans and that can point to previous successful projects are most likely to be selected.


To submit a proposal for ISC funding, read the Call for Proposals page and submit a self-contained pdf using the online form.

Upcoming Event: The role of data journalism in the COVID-19 pandemic

By Blog, Events

Join us March 18, 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PDT. More information!

The role of data journalists in the scientific process has traditionally been overlooked. However, the most recent pandemic showed how journalism shapes scientific responses and public policy. Thousands of journalists rose to the challenge when the public needed information in order to respond to the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Journalists acquired COVID-19 data, visualized it and disseminated their work to help the world contain the virus and flatten the curve. 

In order to effectively respond to the pandemic, the world needs a coordinated response driven by accurate, complete data. The data must encompass local outbreaks and be released quickly so action can be taken. Journalists, with experience collecting local information and releasing articles in a timely manner, were well suited to help inform the public. However, by visualizing and analyzing COVID data, journalists became participants in the scientific process rather than simple conveyors of results. Their efforts help data scientists, inform decision-makers and shape a new role for data journalism in crisis situations. 

On March 18 the COVID-19 Data Forum, sponsored by the Stanford Data Science Initiative and R Consortium, will host a meeting to discuss how a new breed of data journalists collected quantitative data that helped fight the pandemic. The forum will also discuss how data scientists utilize their resources to create better models. 

Speakers: 

The event is free and open to the public!

Join us March 18, 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PDT. More information!

Major Success! Highlights from the Brazilian Conference on Data Journalism and Digital Methods (CODA.br)

By Blog

On November 2 – 7, 2020, the 5th edition of the Brazilian Conference on Data Journalism and Digital Methods (CODA.Br) took place with 50 national and international guest speakers and 16 workshops. CODA.Br is the largest data journalism conference in Latin America and this year was completely virtual.

Open access to all debates, keynotes, lightning talks and presentations of the second edition of the Cláudio Weber Abramo Data Journalism Award is available on the CODA.br website (in Portuguese): https://escoladedados.org/coda2020/

Organized by Open Knowledge Brasil and Escola de Dados (School of Data Brazil), CODA.Br is backed by the support of multiple large scale associations including the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), R Consortium, Hivos Institute, Embassy of the Netherlands and the United States Consulate. 

With more than 500 attendees, CODA.Br held cutting edge panel discussions covering topics such as avoiding bias in AI with open source tools, Health in journalism and Covid-19, and challenges in the Amazon. Workshops were also held covering a broad range of contemporary subjects like evaluating election data with R and analysis of socioeconomic data in QGIS were held totalling over 24 hours of programming.

Coda.Br made itself even more accessible to the public by offering 150 free passes to build a more diverse, impactful audience. The event attracted participants from 25 states and the federal district in all Brazlian regions. With an average of 73 attendees per workshop, more than half of participants surveyed considered the workshops to be “excellent”.

 We can’t wait to see what next year brings for CODA.Br!

Interview with Nontsikelelo Shongwe, Co-Organizer of the Eswatini UseR Meetup Group

By Blog

On February 7th, 2021, in the very first in the Why R? World Series, Kevin O’Brien of the Why R? Foundation spoke with Nontsikelelo Shongwe, an enthusiastic R user from Eswatini, and co-organizer of the Eswatini UseR meetup group. (Eswatini is located in southeastern Africa, surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique.) 

In this interview, Nontsikelelo introduces the landscape of R users in Eswatini and describes her boundary breaking experiences as a young R user. Many thanks to Why R? for giving Nontsikelelo the chance to share her inspiring story.

You can watch the full interview below.

Timestamps

0:00 Brief Introduction

1:07 Eswatini

2:20 Nontsikelelo Shongwe Background

3:00 Eswatini R User Group

4:30 Future R Goals

5:18 Eswaiti R User Group Members

5:50 What do Eswaitinians need R for? 

6:43 Favorite R packages?

7:55 Do you want to go abroad to represent Eswatini?

8:50 Other African R Groups

9:20 R Ladies Eswatini?

9:40 COVID-19 in Eswatini

10:20 Last Words

The Why R? Foundation exists to support local R communities around the world, and share ideas and projects virtually. 

More Info:

Twitter: @EswataniUseR

EswatiniUseR Group

Manzini, SZ
64 Members

This is a group for anyone interested in learning and sharing best practices in analyzing data in R

Check out this Meetup Group →

Decoding Case Data Through the COVID-19 Data Hub

By Blog

by Emanuele Guidotti & David Ardia, originally published in the Journal of Open Source Software

In December 2019 the first cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology were reported in Wuhan city, People’s Republic of China.[1] Since the outbreak of the disease, officially called COVID–19 by World Health Organization (WHO), a multitude of papers have appeared. By one estimate, the COVID-19 literature published in January-May 2019 has reached more than 23,000 papers — among the biggest explosions of scientific literature ever.[2]

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House and a coalition of leading research groups have prepared the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset[3], a resource of over 134,000 scholarly articles about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and related coronaviruses. The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering, with technical support from ESRI and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, is maintaining an interactive web-based dashboard to track COVID-19 in real time[4]. All data collected and displayed are made freely available through a GitHub repository. [5] A team of over one hundred Oxford University students and staff from every part of the world is collecting information on several different common policy responses governments have taken. The data are aggregated in The Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker[6]. Google and Apple released mobility reports [7] [8] to help public health officials. Governments all over the world are releasing COVID-19 data to track the outbreak as it unfolds.

It becomes critical to harmonize the amount of heterogeneous data that have become available to help researchers and policy makers in containing the epidemic. To this end, we developed the COVID-19 Data Hub, designed to aggregate the data from several sources and allow contributors to collaborate on the implementation of additional data providers.[9] The goal of our project is to provide the research community with a unified data hub by collecting worldwide fine-grained case data, merged with exogenous variables helpful for a better understanding of COVID-19.

The data are hourly crunched by a dedicated server and harmonized in CSV format on a cloud storage, in order to be easily accessible from R, Python, MATLAB, Excel, and any other software. The data are available at different levels of granularity: 1) administrative area of top-level, usually countries; 2) states, regions, cantons; 3) cities, municipalities.

The first prototype of the platform was developed in spring 2020, initially as part of a research project that was later published in Springer Nature and showcased on the website of the Joint Research Center of the European Commission. The project was then started at the #CodeVSCovid19 hackathon in March, funded by the Canadian Institute for Data Valorization IVADO in April, won the CovidR contest in May, presented at the European R Users Meeting eRum2020 in June, and published in the Journal of Open Source Software in July. At the time of writing, we count 3.43 million downloads and more than 100 members in the community around the project.

COVID-19 Data Hub has recently received support by the R Consortium[10], the worlwide organization that promotes key organizations and groups developing, maintaining, distributing and using R software as a leading platform for data science and statistical computing.[11]

We are now in the process of establishing close cooperation with professors from the Department of Statistics and Biostatistics of the California State University, in a joint effort to maintain the project.

Emanuele Guidotti & David Ardia

Reference

Guidotti, E., Ardia, D., (2020), “COVID-19 Data Hub”, Journal of Open Source Software 5(51):2376, doi: 10.21105/joss.02376.


[1] World Health Organization, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) SITUATION REPORT 1 – 21 JANUARY 2020

[2] https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abc7839

[3] Wang, Lucy Lu, Kyle Lo, Yoganand Chandrasekhar, Russell Reas, Jiangjiang Yang, Darrin Eide, Kathryn Funk, et al. 2020. “CORD-19: The Covid-19 Open Research Dataset.” arXiv Preprint arXiv:2004.10706.

[4] Dong, Ensheng, Hongru Du, and Lauren Gardner. 2020. “An Interactive Web-Based Dashboard to Track Covid-19 in Real Time.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 20 (5): 533–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30120-1.

[5] https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19

[6] Hale, Thomas, Samuel Webster, Anna Petherick, Toby Phillips, and Beatriz Kira. 2020. “Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker.” Blavatnik School of Government.

[7] https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

[8] https://www.apple.com/covid19/mobility/

[9] https://github.com/covid19datahub/COVID19/

[10] https://www.r-consortium.org/blog/2020/12/14/r-consortium-providing-financial-support-to-covid-19-data-hub-platform

[11] https://www.r-consortium.org/