UN launches global ‘challenge’ for COVID-19 open source solutions

UN launches global contest to search for COVID-19 solution

The United Nations (UN) is organizing a global contest called “COVID-19 Detect and Protect” as part of the efforts to search for a solution to the coronavirus.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)— the UN’s agency for development, and Hackster.io, the largest community of hardware and software developers, will be organizing the event which will be open until August 2020.

The UN identifies COVID-19 as an “unprecedented global health and humanitarian emergency.” The organization also said the pandemic presents a massive threat and potentially devastating social, economic, and political crises that will be felt by many countries for many years to come

The coronavirus pandemic can also reverse the progress made in tackling global poverty over the past 20 years, “putting at risk the lives and livelihoods of billions of people,” the organization said.

COVID-19 Detect and Protect

Technology giants including Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services among others, have pitched in to support the “COVID-19 Detect and Protect” challenge.

In the official announcement, the UN said the COVID-19 situation prompted the agency and Hackster.io to join forces to search for the world’s best and brightest in coming up with a solution to the pandemic.

The two organizations, through the contest, will search for developers (software and hardware), designers, scientists, researchers, hackers, as well as innovators who may have the answers or solutions to the threat of the pandemic.

The hosts will solicit solutions from all over the globe, as it recognizes that “innovation and ingenuity are not constrained by geography.”

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said that the UN is working together with its respective partners on three immediate priorities.

Steiner mentioned the priorities as supporting the World Health Organization on the procurement and supply of essential health products; crisis management and how to respond to the pandemic; and recognizing and addressing the major social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Research plays a major part in finding COVID-19 solution

Potential COVID-19 solutions

According to the UN, a panel of judges will review and select the Top 10 open source solutions “on a rolling basis through 2020.”

Winners are set to receive global recognition, more importantly, the solutions that will be selected are going to be shared and transferred to countries that need them the most, the UN said, adding that it will use its resources on the best way to transfer knowledge.

Participants will need to address three key concerns or priority actions. These will include:

  • how to flatten the curve in communities and countries with preventive solutions;
  • how to reduce the disease’s impact on economies of these vulnerable areas;
  • how to design low-cost tools to aid in coronavirus detection; and how to replicate these tools.

Massive impact

The UN highlights that COVID-19 is putting millions of lives at risk, particularly in developing countries. These developing countries could potentially lose US$220 billion (AUS$345 billion) in income as a direct effect of the ongoing pandemic.

In addition, the UN noted that the pandemic can directly cause mass unemployment, weaken healthcare systems, and increase poverty and inequality.

Images courtesy of Engin Akyurt, Chickenonline /Pixabay

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