Dean's Dialogue: How Algorithms Helped Greece Cope with COVID-19

Project Eva: AI, COVID, and Greek Tourism 

November 13, 2020

Marshall Dean Geoff Garrett spoke with data scientists Kimon Drakopoulos and Vishal Gupta, two assistant professors of data sciences and operations at the Marshall School, who collaborated to develop advanced AI algorithms to help the Greek government admit tourists over the summer. 

The latest Dean's Dialogue took place Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.

"At business schools, the role of data and analytics and now AI has become more and more important," Garrett said at the beginning of the discussion. "This isn't going to be a nerdy talk about how data science works. It's about how data science can help solve the most pressing problems today." 

The three discussed how "Project Eva" used machine learning to help guide which tourists should receive scarce coronavirus tests based not on physical symptoms, but rather predictive metrics. The result were impressive and the project is ongoing.


Enjoy highlights of the discussion below:


The genesis of “Project Eva.”

Kimon Drakopoulos tells Geoff Garrett how one cold-sent email got the attention of the Greek Prime Minister and launched work on “Project Eva.”


Why sampling for COVID based on symptoms isn’t effective

Vishal Gupta explains to Geoff Garrett why sampling based on symptoms isn’t effective for a disease that can be present in infected people but asymptomatic for a 10-15 day span.


How a closed-loop system works for tracking infected travelers

Vishal Gupta describes the closed-loop system that helps identify asymptomatic travelers who could be infected with the coronavirus.

Keeping up with “the evolving story” of COVID infections

Vishal Gupta tells Geoff Garrett how the system gets smarter with each input, and how it’s important to keep on top of the evolving story.


Preventing human bias with transparency and automation

Kimon Drakopoulos explains to Geoff Garrett about how the transparency and automated system works to prevent human bias determining who gets tested.


How travelers reacted to being tested at the Greek border

Kimon Drakopoulos and Vishal Gupta tell Geoff Garrett how people at the Greek border reacted differently when told they’d have to be screened to enter the country.