Computer modelling of epidemics must meet ‘professional standards’, says industry group

Computer code used to model the spread of diseases including coronavirus “must meet professional standards”, an industry lobby group has said, after criticism of some of the systems used by ministers who ordered the UK lockdown.

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, said that a lack of widely-accepted software development standards in scientific research, risks undermining confidence in computer modelling, including high-profile models which were used to inform Covid-19 policy.

Dr Bill Mitchell, the group’s director of policy, said better modelling could help determine which lockdown measures were likely to have the greatest public health benefits.

He warned that currently “the quality of the software implementations of scientific models appear to rely too much on the individual coding practices of the scientists who develop them”.

The British Computer Society (BCS) is a professional body which represents people working in information technology and computer science.

The group’s comments come 

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