Using AI and data to combat COVID-19 in the Global South

June 09, 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data science are key tools to support public health responses to COVID-19. IDRC and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) are providing up to CA$10 million to support AI and data research and innovations in the Global South to assist the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery.

Researchers analyze big data from mobile networks to gain insights on economic activity.
LIRNEasia

The COVID-19 Global South AI and Data Innovation initiative is open for applications from research consortia and individual organizations.

“AI and data science are key elements of ongoing COVID-19 public health interventions”, says IDRC President Jean Lebel. “From timely and accurate detection of disease outbreaks to policy forecasts to chatbots for communicating with the public, AI and data science offer new ways of responding to the pandemic.”

Countries in the Global South must also address infrastructure, governance, and implementation challenges related to new technologies. This initiative will explore how to best use responsible and inclusive tools in the Global South while ensuring they maintain the highest regard for inclusion, sustainability, and human rights.

“Sida is pleased to collaborate with IDRC on this important initiative, which primarily targets researchers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to lead research teams applying AI tools and data science to support the COVID-19 response and recovery in LMIC settings,” says AnnaMaria Oltorp, head of Sida’s Research Cooperation Unit.

 The program aims to support multidisciplinary research in six thematic areas:

  • Forecasting transmissions and reducing spread through policy and public health interventions;
  • Mobilizing AI and data science to understand and support gender-inclusive COVID-19 action;
  • Optimizing public health system responses for patient diagnosis, care, and management;
  • Building trust and combatting mis- and dis-information around COVID-19;
  • Strengthening data systems and information sharing about COVID-19; and
  • Supporting transparent and responsible AI, data, and digital rights governance around COVID-19 and pandemic responses.

Funding will support research that uses AI and data science to strengthen governments and public systems in responding to the current pandemic and to address future epidemics. It will also support policy research that ensures the use of AI and data is responsible (inclusive, rights-based, ethical, and sustainable) and well governed. The program will also support opportunities for Southern researchers to build capacities and collaborate with researchers globally.

Learn more about the call

Apply now  

Deadline for applications is July 5, 2020 at 11:59 pm (EDT)