Metaculus, VDH, and UVA’s Biocomplexity Institute Announce the Launch of the Keep Virginia Safe II Forecasting Tournament

Reputation-Based Community Forecasting Has Informed COVID-19 Modeling and Planning Efforts in VA Since 2021’s Inaugural Tournament

Keep Virginia Safe II Will Award $20,000 in Prizes to Forecasters Helping to Predict COVID-19’s Likely Epidemiological Trajectory and the Impact of Variants

January 30th, 2023

Richmond, VA – Today, the Virginia Department of Health, the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, and Metaculus announce the opening of the Keep Virginia Safe II Forecasting Tournament, a year-long competition building on previous collaborative efforts to deliver actionable, informative forecasts that support the decision making of public health officials in the state of Virginia.

The inaugural Keep Virginia Safe Tournament was a first-of-its-kind partnership between a public health agency and a community forecasting platform: More than 200 participating forecasters on Metaculus contributed nearly 15,000 individual forecasts, providing assistance with design and resource planning for programs that included vaccination, testing, and contact tracing. By aggregating probabilistic forecasts and weighting predictions according to forecasters’ past accuracy, Keep Virginia Safe delivered early-warning signals to the VDH team, its in-state partners, and the public.

VDH, UVA, and Metaculus are proud to partner again for the Keep Virginia Safe II Tournament, extending the success of previous efforts with a year-long competition comprising three rounds of forecast questions probing:

Forecasts will help determine the most likely future scenarios, serving as additional inputs for modeling efforts and policy making in the Commonwealth.

"We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Virginia Department of Health and the UVA Biocomplexity Institute for a second year. Together, we are pioneering the use of human judgmental forecasts to improve the performance of computational models and to support decision making in public health policy." said Gaia Dempsey, Metaculus’s CEO.

"Virginia has been a leader in foresight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our partnership with Metaculus has been a significant part of that; their work helps us respond proactively to emerging public health threats beyond COVID-19." said Robert Mauskapf, VDH’s Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

"Community forecasting platforms like Metaculus have shown considerable promise in providing robust actionable forecasts for policymakers,” said Srini Venkatramanan, Research Assistant Professor at UVA’s Biocomplexity Institute. “Through our earlier Real Time Pandemic Decision Making Tournament we have also seen that such forecasts could greatly benefit computational models and vice versa. We are excited to continue this unique partnership with the goal of strengthening modeling and foresight systems for the Commonwealth of Virginia."

The tournament will award $20,000 to the most accurate forecasters after it concludes in January, 2024. Round 1 begins today, with new questions launching over the next 12 months. The tournament is open to the public. Learn more and participate here.

Metaculus is an online forecasting platform and aggregation engine working to improve human reasoning and coordination on topics of global importance. By bringing together an international community and keeping score for thousands of forecasters, Metaculus is able to deliver machine learning-optimized aggregate predictions that help partners set priorities and make decisions.

The Virginia Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of Virginians. It is made up of a statewide Central Office in Richmond and 35 local health districts. These entities work together to promote healthy lifestyle choices that can combat chronic disease, educate the public about emergency preparedness and threats to their health, and track disease outbreaks in Virginia.

The University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute is a growing research institute with research that covers everything from genetic sequencing to policy analysis and takes an interdisciplinary team science approach to solving large-scale complex problems.