Dr. Bonnie Benesh, CEO Think To DO Institute

By working together and sharing knowledge, we have a better chance of beating the pandemic. Collective intelligence allows us to use large scale data to solve problems more quickly. Now our personal data can help slow and may even help find cures for the COVID-19 virus. There are at least six ways that the 4th Industrial Revolution is accelerating the use of data and can be applied in every community.

To do so it will require public private partnerships focused on a common goal using real time or almost real time data that can be harvested from common people through such things as cell phone data and social media dialogue.  Collectively, data creators and data users can make a difference using boundary-less strategies.

Predicting and Monitoring Outbreaks

Personal cell phone data can help predict and monitor outbreaks based on cell phone reporting of persons who are ill via their cell phones to their doctors.

Citizen Science

Members of the public can generate new scientific data about how infections spread. Technology allows people to download an app that monitored their GPS position every hour and asks them to report who they had encountered or had contact with that day. IF they become ill, the data needed to see who might become infected is then easy to track. An example of “citizen science” is a collective intelligence initiative in UK that has created a huge wealth of data that helped researchers understand who the super-spreaders are.

Real time monitoring and information

Created by a coding academy based on official government data, Covid-19 SG allows Singapore residents to see every known infection case, the street where the person lives and works, which hospital they got admitted to, the average recovery time and the network connections between infections. Despite concerns about potential privacy infringements, the Singapore government has taken the approach that openness about infections is the best way to help people make decisions and manage anxiety about what is happening.

With this data available from around the world, intelligent, machine learning algorithms could then identify trends human experts can miss, then raise recommendations for professionals to review and validate. The process could speed up detection in the case of COVID-19.

Social Media Mining Projects

At Harvard’s medical school, researchers are using citizen-generated data to monitor the progress of the disease. To do this, they mine social media posts and use natural language processing to look for mentions of respiratory problems, and fever in locations where doctors had reported potential cases. This builds on evidence published in a January article of the journal Epidemiology that found that hot spots of tweets could be good indicators of how a disease spreads. It remains to be seen how effective these initiatives are.

Serious Games

To speed up the development of drugs to combat coronavirus, researchers at the University of Washington are calling on scientists and the public to play an online game.

The challenge is to build a protein that could block the virus from infiltrating human cells. The game is on Foldit, a 12-year-old website which has crowdsourced contributions to important protein research from more than 200,000 registered players worldwide.

Open Source Test Kits

Responding to concerns about the lack of access to testing for COVID-19, Nesta Collective Intelligence grantee,  Just One Giant Lab, is behind an effort to develop a cheap, quick coronavirus test that can be used anywhere in the world. The initiative is crowdsourcing ideas from do-it-yourself biology communities, with the ambition to open source and share designs so that certified labs can easily produce test kits for their communities.

Sharing Knowledge

In a global crisis, sharing collective intelligence about the virus will be a significant factor in our ability to respond and find new treatments. Researchers have also been sharing new findings about the virus’ genomic profile through open source publications and preprint sites.

This experience is creating a new normal.  There is a new normal in the use of technology in our daily lives, in our business lives, in our recreational lives.  Digital Economies are now a reality.  Our learning curve is steep. How can we use this for the global common good, and the local good?

The acceleration due to the Forth Industrial Revolution is that the new normal is a society where every household is connected technologically, and every person has a digital learning device so that we can all learn new skills that propel us into the digital world.  It is about a world where we all can be digital contributors to the creation of a resilient society.

(Dutch Translation – pg 2)

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