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Vida Decision Support Systems to Inform Decision Making for Cities during COVID




MAS: Media Arts and Sciences

Faculty Supervisor:

Danielle Wood

Faculty email:


Apply by:

September 15


See above

Project Description

The Space Enabled Research Group works to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. The group considers three broad research thrusts: (1) Developing space technologies that advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), (2) Working to make space and its benefits accessible for all and sustainable for the future, and (3) Exploring the relationship between technology and social inequity. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab is leading a US-based team of innovators from several universities to design the Vida Decision Support System, a customized online tool targeted for use by public sector officials at the city and regional level who are making policies regarding public health or environmental management. The US team, led by Space Enabled, is collaborating with leaders in Latin America, Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia to design tools to inform public policy in response to challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vida Decision Support System helps city and regional leaders understand the relationships between important societal factors that are changing by creating models in the following areas: Public Health, Environment, Socioeconomic Impacts, Public Policy, and Disease Surveillance Technology. Vida is based on an integrated Data Visualization and Modeling Framework created by the Space Enabled Research Group that combines multiple data sources and creates simulations of the current or potential future states of a city or region. The Space Enabled Research Group seeks students to work on the Vida Decision Support System. Project activities for the Fall 2020 term include: (1) Participating in meetings with collaborators from Latin America, Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia; (2) supporting the Vida communications team to update the website and coordinate with collaborators about access to data for Vida; and (3) participating in coding the Vida Decision Support System integrated model, which includes using tools such as MATLAB, Java and collaboration environments such as GitHub. The student will work closely with their research mentor, graduate students and team members. The option to renew for Winter/Spring may be available. All the work for this UROP will be completed virtually.


We are looking for students with one or more of the following areas of experience: 1) Coding using systems dynamics; 2) Performing analysis with satellite earth observation data; 3) Performing analysis with data in Excel, MATLAB or writing scripts using JAVA for data analysis; 4) Website design, graphic design or professional communications; 5) Language expertise in Spanish, Portuguese, French or languages spoken in Indonesia.