The emergence of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and its subsequent spread across the globe illustrates the truly interconnected nature of our current society. And such, where there is a systemic challenge, the response must also derive from collective efforts.
In the context of responding to this pandemic, it is key to build responses based on open and shared knowledge, enabling faster circulation and iteration of emerging research, greater integration of multiple data sources to map and anticipate the spread of the virus, as well as communicating trustworthy information with the public and providing continuous training. The general opening of specialized knowledge to facilitate the continuation of services and economic activity is also beneficial to the public, especially during a time when many people are under quarantine or find themselves in precarious or restricted conditions.
With this in mind, we’ve identified some relevant open resources to motivate the construction of responses based on quality information and global collaboration:
1. Open data and dashboards for monitoring cases
Without reliable data, the dimension of the problem and the negative consequences resulting from a lack of concrete decision-making cannot be shown. However, there are many challenges in establishing a data landscape capable of providing a comprehensive and real-time view of the global pandemic situation. Map-building that can illustrate the propagation of the virus and rates of recovery depend on various sources to identify, validate and publish the data on the cases and then combine them into more comprehensive data sets, while also finding the most effective ways to visually communicate something relevant or actionable.
For this reason, initiatives to create platforms that centralize, connect and visualize data from different sources and agencies in an open way are increasingly valuable and essential. Opening the data so that they can be used to generate tools, portals, maps and/or applications and also providing the documentation of their analysis facilitates the methodological strengthening of the technical community and builds greater trust with the public. At the same time, it is important to be very clear about the sensitivity of the data that is opened, to protect the privacy and security of those affected, especially when it comes to geo-referenced data or personal information data.
These resources represent some of the efforts to map and communicate the effects of this global crisis:
Maps with real-time data
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center – Johns Hopkins University
- Dashboard directory (ESRI)
Additional visualizations and dynamic reports
- Coronavirus: Real-time News Updates and Data
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research (derived from WHO Situation Reports)
- COVID-19 Coronavirus data – EU Open Data Portal
- Visualizing the importance of Social Distancing | Washington Post
Additional resources for working with data
- COVID-19 GIS Hub (ESRI)
- 7 best practices for mapping a pandemic (Mapbox)
- Open Data Kit – Request support for data collection related to COVID-19
- Tools for ethical decision-making with geolocalized data (en inglés)
- COVID-19 Resources (Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data)
2. Open science and collaborative efforts to decode the virus
In less than two weeks from the detection of the first cases in Wuhan, China, scientists close to the ground released a “genome for a case of coronavirus respiratory disease” that was later analyzed by researchers from different laboratories and universities around the world, generating a more complete understanding of the virus’s DNA and helping to quickly understand its similarity to other serious viruses such as SARS. “Quick access to sequence data from open repositories like GenBank plays a vital role in helping countries develop specific diagnostic kits for disease outbreaks like this,” affirmed the blogpost announcing the data.
Open science and open access continue to provide strong support for efforts to accelerate research and development of responses to the pandemic. With a change.org petition, more than 32,000 relevant articles were opened through the coronavirus.1science repository and many voices from the scientific and research community continue to call for additional and systematic open access, the continuation of the lessons learned from the response to past epidemics.
Here are some resources and opportunities for collaborative open source research:
- Genomic epidemiology of novel coronavirus
- Help discover antiviral drugs with this FoldIt game
- Developing a safe & open source DIY Covid-19 diagnosis test (Just One Giant Lab)
- Mobilizing collective intelligence to tackle coronavirus (Nesta UK)
- GitHub: Useful projects and resources for COVID-19 (2019 novel Coronavirus)
- Observational Health Data Science and Informatics Virtual Study-a-thon
- GovLab #Data4COVID Data Collaborative Living Repository
3. Tools and platforms for public information, training, public services and community support
Responding to a crisis often requires generating behavioral changes and collaboration between health personnel, citizens, governments, academia, and civil society. Communicating the facts about the situation as they unfold, as well as conveying the necessary preventative steps requires a mix of communication resources that are clear, consistent, and easily understood by a diverse audience. Fortunately, we live in a time where people are more connected than ever and information can be transmitted almost instantly. The other side of this coin is a saturation of sources with different levels of quality and confidence, the mix of facts and opinions, and the expectation of having clear and verified answers in seconds, rather than days.
Here are some training and communication resources to deliver quality information to the public:
- WHO – Advice for the public
- Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) for Novel Coronavirus (WHO Open)
- Emerging respiratory viruses, including COVID-19: methods for detection, prevention, response and control (WHO Open)
- Bot – Ask a Scientist (Federation of American Scientists)
- Brazilian Ministry of Health opens mobile app for public awareness
- News and information verification of Coronavirus in Mexico | El Sabueso
- Coronavirus chequeado: verificación de contenido de noticias
- Explicación de distancia social | CIPER Chile
- Frena la curva: citizen initiatives for social innovation and civic resilience in response to coronavirus
4. Tools and methodologies to continue working and collaborating virtually
With the WHO’s announcement of a pandemic and the need to take extensive social distancing measures to reduce infections and the probability of spreading the virus, many organizations, companies and public administrations have decided to implement telework measures. This represents a challenge to manage teams remotely, promote virtual collaboration and remote work. In addition to digital tools to power working remotely, here are some additional recommendations from individuals and organizations to make the most of remote work.
- Moving Online | Curso | BID | INDES: At the IDB, we are making available many online learning resources, information in various formats, answers to common online education questions, and advice on how to move from an on-site model to an online model effectively. Explore the #movingonline hub.
- Know How Now: an IDB publication with guides to lead collaboration and knowledge sharing methodologies, even in virtual contexts. Explore for example, Smarter Crowdsourcing, Virtual Globetrotters, and Code Expeditions. More of these methodologies can be further adapted for online.
- Los equipos de trabajo y la transformación digital: cursos de LinkedIn
- From Surviving to Thriving in Telework (We are Open)
- Seguimos educando: colección de materiales y recursos educativos digitales organizados por el Ministerio de la Educación de Argentina
- Distance learning solutions: UNESCO material on solutions to continue studying in emergency situations due to school closings.
- 19 Herramientas para trabajar en remoto (Thinking With You)
Around the world, together we are facing a new and dynamic situation. We are finally observing what has been said in theory, that the world is changing faster than ever, technology will facilitate the exchange of complex information almost instantaneously, and the role of people will be to act with great creativity, empathy, community care, and pursue continuous learning.
As professionals serving the public, we have to do more to question our own biases and assumptions, inspire others to do the same, think along shorter time horizons, empower our collective imagination, and guide each other through this period of transformative learning, with co-creative processes to build a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive world and future. Through open knowledge, we can continue together.
If you would like to highlight additional resources, we invite you to leave them in the comments.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this compilation:
Adela Barrio, Michelle Marshall, Arturo Muente, Arianna Orozco, Laura Paonessa, Diana Pinto, Stella Porto, Jesenia Rodriguez, Florencia Serale, Kyle Strand, Carolina Suarez