Model data

Getting the data

MetaWards uses a large amount of data to describe the network over which the model is run. This data is stored in a separate MetaWardsData repository.

You can download this data in one of two ways;

Direct download

Download one of the data releases from the releases page. It is best to choose the latest release unless you are trying to reproduce an earler calculation.

You can download the data as a zip or a tar.gz archive, and can unpack it using either;

tar -zxvf MetaWardsData-0.2.0.tar.gz

if you downloaded the 0.2.0 release tar.gz file, or


if you downloaded the zip file.

Git clone

You can clone the data repository using

git clone

Finding the data

Once you have downloaded the data you will need to tell metawards where the data is located. This can be done in one of three ways;

  1. Set the METAWARDSDATA environment variable equal to the full path to the data, e.g.

    export METAWARDSDATA=$HOME/MetaWardsData

    (assuming you have placed it in your home directory)

  2. Pass the full path to the data to metawards using the command line argument --repository, e.g.

        metawards --repository $HOME/MetaWardsData
    (again assumes you have placed it in your home directory)
  3. Move the data to $HOME/GitHub/MetaWardsData as this is the default search location, e.g.

    mkdir $HOME/GitHub
    mv $HOME/MetaWardsData $HOME/GitHub/

Versioning the data

Provenance is very important for MetaWards. It is important to know what inputs were used for a model run so that it is possible to recreate the calculation and thus reproduce the result.

To aid this, MetaWardsData has a small script that you should run after you have downloaded the data. This will version the data by finding the git tag of the data. Run this script using;


This will create a small file called version.txt which will look something like this;

{"version": "0.2.0","repository": "","branch": "main"}

This file will be read by metawards during a run to embed enough information in the outputs to enable others to download the same MetaWardsData input as you.

Understanding the data

The MetaWardData repository contains four types of data;


The model_data directory contains the data needed to construct a network of wards and links. Currently the 2011 model is included, in the 2011Data directory. The manifest of files that comprise this model is 2011Data/description.json. This json file is read by metawards to find and load all of the files that are needed for this model.


The diseases directory contains the parameters for different diseases. Each disease is described in its own json file, e.g. the parameters for SARS-Cov-2 are in diseases/ncov.json. Once of the main purposes of metawards is to perform parameter sweeps to adjust these disease parameters so that a model epidemic can more closely follow what is observed in reality. From there, more meaningful predictions should be able to be made.


The parameters directory contains parameters used to control metawards model runs. These represent “good defaults” for the values of the parameters, and are stored in the MetaWardsData repository to make it easier to version control and track provenance of the parameters used for different jobs. The parameters used for jobs in March 2020 (and correct as of March 29th) are in parameters/march29.json.


The extra_seeds directory contains files that can be used to seed new model disease clusters at different wards during a model run. Each file can contain as many additional seeds as needed. The format is three numbers per line; t   num   loc, where t is the step (day) on which the additional infection will be seeded, num is the number of additional infections, and loc is the index of the ward in the model network in which the infection will occur.