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Technical and communication support to achieve and scale the impact of the COVID-19 Global South AI and Data Innovation Program

The COVID-19 crisis has been called a data-driven pandemic, with massive amounts of data being generated, collected, shared, and analyzed, and provided for public consumption. There are lessons from epidemics such as SARS-COV-1, H1N1, Zika, and Ebola that point to the need for reliable and timely data. Early steps were taken in these prior epidemics to leverage data from novel sources, including the private sector. In the current context, many data-enabled innovations have been developed to facilitate early detection, contact tracing, quarantine monitoring, and timely interactive public communication. Data-enabled innovations are being used to inform policy relating to isolation and economic lockdowns.

While data is crucial, it is important to ensure appropriate safeguards when dealing with personal data originating either directly from citizens or through the private sector. For example, though there is great value in leveraging personal data held by mobile operators for tracking movement, the Global System for Mobile Communications (the mobile industry association), updated its privacy guidelines for the use of mobile network big data in the context of COVID-19 to protect communication rights.

This project aims to enable multidisciplinary research to deepen our understanding of how to develop and scale responsible (inclusive, rights-based, ethical, and sustainable), evidence-based artificial intelligence and data science approaches that support response and recovery to COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries. A technical resource hub will facilitate synergies between projects of the COVID-AI program, synthesize research findings, and facilitate engagement between the COVID-AI program and national and regional policymakers.

Project ID
Project Status
30 months
IDRC Officer
Katie Clancy
Total Funding
CA$ 645,100.00
Education and Science
Education and Science
Global Health
Networked Economies
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Sriganesh Lokanathan
United Nations Development Programme/Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement/Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo