Data science for an even "smarter" Ticino

Defibrillator provided by Fondazione Ticino Cuore installed in Castagnola, Lugano (© Ti-Press / Gabriele Putzu)
Defibrillator provided by Fondazione Ticino Cuore installed in Castagnola, Lugano (© Ti-Press / Gabriele Putzu)

Institutional Communication Service

14 April 2021

Data science helps us to investigate the main causes of out-of-hospital deaths - such as cardiac arrest, acute coronary syndrome and cerebral stroke - and to develop 'smart' and cutting-edge first response solutions, thanks to a project conducted by USI in collaboration with Cardiocentro Ticino, Fondazione Ticino Cuore, and Federazione Cantonale Ticinese Servizi Ambulanze. The project, which was initiated in 2018, has just received new funding from the Swiss National Research Fund.

The acute manifestations of cardiovascular diseases all require very fast intervention times (a few minutes) in order to avoid the death of patients, thus not only to ensure their survival but also to reduce the negative neurological consequences from a lack of oxygenation of the brain during the acute event.

"We have developed new statistical models and algorithms that manage to combine different data sources, mainly those provided by the project partners, but also environmental and meteorological data collected by MeteoSwiss, and other socio-demographic data from the cantonal Statistics Bureau," explains Antonietta Mira, Full professor of Statistics at the USI Faculty of Economics and director of the Data Science Lab at USI.

The aim of the project is to reduce the intervention time for cardiovascular emergencies, leading to a significant decrease in mortality and a neurological improvement in survivors. This can be achieved by identifying areas at high risk of cardiovascular events and predicting areas of higher future risk early and accurately, taking into account demographic characteristics, socio-economic, climatic and environmental factors. "We will produce cardiovascular risk maps of Ticino, updated weekly, which will be available to emergency medical services so as to optimise the surveillance of the areas most at risk by first aid responders and police, reducing ambulance arrival times and the time required for intervention and first aid. Once fully developed, the project will have far-reaching social and health benefits and can be applied to other areas in Switzerland and Europe," says Prof. Mira.

"Thanks to this important support for research, which also involves brilliant Master's and PhD students from USI, for the next four years we will continue along this line of interdisciplinary research that has already led to important publications in international journals, communications at conferences focused on the definition of new methodologies to improve the strategic positioning of automatic defibrillators in the Ticino area," says Prof. Dr. Angelo Auricchio, Deputy chief of cardiology at Cardiocentro Ticino and co-director of the Center for Computational Medicine in Cardiology at USI.