Katy Banks ’15: Providing early intelligence on COVID-19

As Chief of Staff for the New York City-based global intelligence and advisory firm Ergo, Katy Banks ’15 is focused on efforts to provide early intelligence and bold predictions on the future of COVID-19.

Katy-Banks-15Partnering with government officials, leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and economists, Banks and her colleagues at Ergo launched the COVID-19 Intelligence Forum to help decision makers understand what is coming before it comes. Her work also guides national and international responses to the pandemic in the right direction. The Forum includes weekly video conferences on outbreak scenarios and “Indicators & Warnings,” and daily intelligence updates based on government restrictions, economic stimuli, social signposts, and medical advances.

She also has been involved in Ergo’s creation of its own epi-curve as well as a social unrest monitor to forecast and warn of panic and social unrest in U.S. cities, based on artificial intelligence of social media and other key data and indicators. These trackers helped businesses determine when to cancel travel and employ remote workforces before the government and the media pushed the severity of COVID-19, Banks says, contributing to the prevention of the spread of the virus.

“My advice is to take COVID-19 even more seriously than our own federal, state, and local governments recommend. Think of those measures as the bare minimum. Stay inside as much as possible, have empathy, recognize the courage and conscious sacrifices of our essential workers, and please do your part,” says Banks, who majored in politics and international relations. “There are shocking numbers of individuals who cannot or do not have access to critical information on COVID-19, so it has become my daily mission to change that and inform as many people as possible about the severity of this virus. This pandemic in the U.S., to date, is largely one of the coasts. If we social distance and heighten our hygiene habits and awareness, we can directly de-risk the middle of the country and flatten the curve.”