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Predicting COVID-19 with deep learning

Researchers at Texas A&M University have recently begun using artificial intelligence to forecast the growth of COVID-19 cases in communities across the country. The university is using a deep-learning model, a method of machine-learning that relies on large amounts of data, to process data related to population activities and mobility to help predict the spread of COVID-19 at a county level. Ali Mostafavi, the project’s lead researcher, said this work could help lawmakers make informed policy decisions to protect residents and mitigate spread of the virus. “Significant opportunities exist using these big data and AI to contain the existing pandemic and also better prepare and mitigate the future pandemics,” said Mostafavi, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Betsy Foresman has the details.

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Academic fraud is on the rise.

A growing number of students are searching for websites that allow them to cheat on homework this semester as more students move to virtual learning, according to new research from the threat intelligence group Cisco Talos. Hundreds of websites offering to do homework or take exams for students are popping up on the internet and taking advantage of students’ increased presence online as they learn remotely during the pandemic, Jaeson Shultz, a researcher at Cisco Talos, told EdScoop. In some cases, these websites threaten students’ cybersecurity, he said, with some domains exploiting requests for help by infecting their devices with malware. Betsy has the story.

Workforce programs get a $126 million boost

Building on a national trend of innovation labs and technical workforce training programs, the U.S. Department of Education has announced it will disperse $126 million to eight states and universities to help “lifelong learners” develop new skills in “high demand areas." CARES Act funding will be provided to participants of the department’s Reimagine Workforce Preparation grants program so they can use the expertise and facilities of universities, develop new training programs and encourage employers to provide workforce preparation programs, the department announced Friday. Grant recipients include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Michigan, Nevada and New York, as well as the University of Hawaii and Virginia’s Hampton University. Colin Wood has more.

Baltimore transit gets some help from local universities

With the goal of improving transit in Baltimore, a new project led by a group of Maryland universities and state agencies will use several digital platforms, including mobile applications and online dashboards, to collect data on the travel patterns of 1,000 city residents. Researchers in the so-called BALTO project will gather data from residents and build computational models to predict how changes would affect transit flows. Organizers said they're particularly interested in improving the quality of transportation in low-income neighborhoods. “We need to view these performance metrics through an equity lens,” said Celeste Chavis, an associate professor at Morgan State University. Ryan Johnston has the full story over on StateScoop.

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