CHRP: COVID-19 Houston Response Projects


COVID-19 Houston Response Projects (CHRP) is a data science competition that the Rice DataSci Club and the D2K Lab are hosting to encourage all Rice students, grad and undergrad, to get involved in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are encouraged to use their data science and computing skills to help solve a number of pressing local challenges. The competition will consist of weekly submissions with ongoing, multiple cash prizes and the opportunity to present at the D2K Virtual Showcase to compete for larger prizes. There is up to $5k in prize money on the line for multiple groups to win. As there are numerous emergent questions which require data science solutions, we are asking you to come together (virtually) to solve them and make an impact in our community!


COVID-19 or coronavirus is a novel virus that is currently infecting then killing at an exponential rate. The virus is causing major disruptions due to its deadly nature, potential to overwhelm healthcare systems, and social, economic and political upheaval.

Houston currently has thousands of confirmed cases and 24 deaths. Although the numbers are currently low, there is growing concern Houston could soon be greatly affected because of the city’s proximity to New Orleans, the city with the current fastest growth rate.

Competition Format


Identify actionable insights with respect to novel coronavirus. The scope of your investigation is totally up to you but we are providing data specific to the Houston community.


The competition will consist of 2 weekly submission opportunities, as well as a final submission at the D2K virtual showcase. You can change your team or topic week to week. Teams may include up to 4 people, and the competition is open to all Rice students, undergrad and grad. You will be judged by the impact, actionability, and technical rigor of your work. Rice faculty will serve as judges. Teams will need a GitHub repo which they will use to submit their findings.


  • Registration - Join the slack (DO IT NOW and Rolling)
  • First Update (04/10/20 11:59 PM)
  • Second Update (04/17/20 11:59 PM)
  • Declaration of intent to participate in D2K showcase and info submitted (04/20/20 5 PM)
  • D2K virtual showcase (04/22/20 5 PM - 7 PM)

Important Info

We’re launching a CHRP Slack. This will be the primary means of communication during the competition, so other people can see what you’re working on and get excited too! You MUST join the Slack to compete.


Weekly submissions

  • Up to 3 groups each week will win $50 per team member

Showcase submission

  • 1st Place - $200 per team member
  • 2nd Place - $100 per team member
  • Impact Awards - Several groups will win $50 per team member

D2K Virtual Showcase

  • You can present your work at the D2K Virtual Showcase on April 22nd, 5-7pm
  • By April 20th, you must submit your team name, a small thumbnail image (optional) to a link to your Github repo.

Recipe for Success

  1. Join the slack to meet other interested Rice students and faculty mentors.
  2. Post in the #covid19-team-forming channel:
    1. Name, residential college, year, major, skills, and ideas (wrt this project)
  3. Form some groups with friends / people with similar interests.
  4. Make a Slack channel for your group to chat in. Decide on a designated point of contact for your group and have them ping gabe / emily / cole to let us know what type of stuff you’re going to work on. (See links below for resources / how to get started.)
  5. Post a weekly update in the #covid19-weekly-updates channel with a link to your Github repo every Friday by 12PM CDT. STARTING THIS FRIDAY (410)!!
    1. Weekly impact prizes will be awarded

Project Ideas, Pressing Questions

  • Socioeconomic
    • Disproportionately affected populations, communities
    • Unemployment
      • How many more people? How many new claims? What are new state and federal provisions during this crisis?
  • Economic
    • Impact on service industry
      • Restaurants - closed vs take out only vs no change (food truck?)
      • Grubhub / Postmates / UberEats
    • How does the upcoming recession compare to previous economic downturns?
    • Who directly benefits from the stimulus package? Can you visualize?
    • How is quarantine affecting consumer spending?
  • Epidemiological
    • Case Estimation / Testing Estimation
      • How many cases do we actually have?
      • How many tests are being given per state / county / region? Can you make a live dashboard of this?
      • How many we will be able to test?
    • Who is high-risk + where are they in the country?
    • How do spreading and fatality rates differ between nations / states / cities?
      • What differs’t response to the virus?
    • How did the virus spread around the world?
      • See this data:
      • Replicating the visualization at the link above would be a fun and educational data viz project!
  • Healthcare
    • How many hospital beds will be needed in Houston at peak? (numbers of ICUs and Ventilators?)
  • Response
    • Lockdown measures
      • How do government responses vary? Domestic and International regions.
    • National / State Park Closures
    • Effects on shipping and infrastructure
  • Personal / Social
  • Misc Visualizations
    • Population risk heat map
    • Stay at home order by county heat map
    • How well are people social distancing?
      • Cell Phone Data?
  • Climate change / Emissions
    • We are driving and flying less, does this result in noticeably fewer emissions? Lasting impacts?

Data Resources