Last week we talked about the amazing response from the tech sector to the coronavirus — how 3D printers, app developers, and content creators are devoting their time to helping others during this unprecedented crisis.
This week we’ll tell you how you can help.
Thursday Devpost announced the global COVID-19 online hackathon, open to all developers. #BuildforCOVID19 encourages innovators around the world to use technologies of your choice across a range of suggested themes and challenge areas – some of which have been sourced through health partners including the World Health Organization and scientists at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.
Working in concert with the World Health Organization, #BuildforCOVID19 is suggesting themes like vulnerable populations, education, community connection, and health initiatives, though they encourage developers to get creative and think outside the box.
And we encourage you to participate! Check it out and register here.
New York State of Mind
If you have experience in software dev, engineering, hardware deployment, end-user support, or data science, you’re wanted. New York is looking for volunteers (individuals or companies) to help create innovative, rapid-response technologies to combat COVID-19.
Teams will assist in the state’s coronavirus response for 90-day service deployments, collaborating virtually with other teams. Preference will be given to tech experts in eastern time zones, but everyone is encouraged to apply. So apply, already!
This would be, at minimum, a 90-day volunteer commitment with the opportunity to extend it as the response effort evolves. If there was ever an all hands on deck situation, this is it.
Apply to be part of the New York state COVID-19 SWAT team here.
Open science platform and publisher Frontiers is making sure researchers pursuing solutions to the global pandemic, can find the funding they need in one place. To that end they’ve launched this new portal, updated daily, that gives researchers a curated list of open funding calls including grant type, deadline, organization, and area supported.
Sources include governments, non-profits, and corporations, and the listings link directly to the calls for easy application. This dashboard is one of the best and most organized ways for anyone with a research project related to COVID-19 to find a funding source. All relevant top-line information presented up front.
Tracking the Spread
A group of tech volunteers from Apple, Amazon, and Google have built a robust, easy-to-use site to help the public self-report their own Coronavirus symptoms or testing activity. Using these reports, the tracker maps information to provide local and national views of the illness.
COVID Near You, which was produced in conjunction with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was completed in a staggering six days.
It began when Prem Ramaswami’s wife started feeling unwell. Ramaswami, Head of Product at Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, and his wife tried to get tested for COVID-19 but were denied tests because they hadn’t been in touch with anyone who’d recently tested positive.
So he reached out to an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, John Brownstein.
Brownstein is no stranger to the world of high tech and has consulted on projects including Google Flu Project, which tracked the spread of the flu. They brought on other experts from the worlds of epidemiology and tech and in less than a week the site was up.
At last count about 10,000 people had provided their health status and the majority are healthy. If usage keeps growing, he believes that the data-set will be large enough to be useful to public health officials.
COVID Near You says data will be shared only with public health officials and not with the respective tech companies working on the project.
Big Data for the Cause
After being inundated with requests from scientists, businesses, researchers, and governments, The New York Times is making its comprehensive datasets on COVID-19 public.
The Times has been closely tracking cases since January, “after it became clear that no federal government agency was providing the public with an accurate, up-to-date record of cases, tracked to the county level, of people in the U.S. who had tested positive for the virus.”
Dean Baquet, executive editor, said of the release:
“We hope the dataset can help inform the ongoing public health response to the pandemic and ultimately, save lives. We believe the data may help reveal how Covid-19 has spread through communities and clusters; which geographic areas may be hit the hardest; and how its spread in hard-hit areas may offer clues for regions that could face wider outbreaks in the future.”
On the Homefront
For our part, we’ve all joined End Coronavirus, an incredibly useful site specializing in networks, agent-based modeling, multi-scale analysis, and complexity. It offers a detailed map, daily updates of the latest developments in active cases, as well as family, business, and government guidelines for how to move forward as the pandemic progresses.
Those of us with sewing chops are participating in the 100 Million Masks Challenge, a program that allows individuals and manufacturers to sew surgical masks for caregivers and healthcare professionals.
And we may be working on something else that we can’t talk about yet…stay tuned.
And be well.