The way researchers connected those dots highlights the role of open science projects in tracking the evolution of Covid-19 and other diseases. Sharing data and working collaboratively across the web, scientists are quickly analyzing genetic samples, helping to shape the public response.
As we all adjust to living with the new realities that COVID-19 has brought, we are reminded how fragile our world can be. However, many open source tools and technologies have been developed that are being used to fight this crisis around the world.
Building Cheap Ventilators through Open Source Collaboration
A large number of specialists, business people and volunteers globally are building an alternate potential arrangement: making open-source ventilators. With access to simple designs, innovators in places like India, Africa or South America could assemble ventilators quickly and efficiently utilize hardware that is accessible as well as open software systems.
Some of the most fundamental open-source ventilator models have been found to be taking place through social media channels, and open-source platforms like GitHub. This has sorted out the cost challenges and developed a response strategy to the crisis.
Here is one example of open-source innovation that deals with an epidemic crisis like COVID-19. The Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System, or SORMAS, is an open-source mobile and web application that empowers healthcare workers to inform hospitals about new instances of infectious diseases, as well as identify potential epidemic outbreaks and control responses.
Next, we can take a look at Nextstrain, which is also an open-source project for following and analyzing viral genomes using a dashboard of the genomic epidemiology of COVID-19. The dashboard displays the evolutionary relations of the mutations of the virus, which can serve to determine the origins of the pandemic. Nextstrain’s COVID-19 dashboard sources its data from GISAID.
It is a health tracking system that is used around the world. The DHIS2 team has released a new package to accelerate case detection, situation reporting, active surveillance and response for COVID-19
ONLINE DIGITAL GLOBAL GOODS CATALOG
The OSC (open source center) is working to make open source tools more accessible, deployable, and interoperable. To that end, DIAL (Digital Impact Alliance) has created their Online Digital Global Goods catalog (currently a beta product). This tool tracks over 200 products that support health, development, and better lives. Sadly, many of these products are not well known and not used as effectively as they might be.
Having the ability to quickly discover and evaluate available digital public goods will make a significant difference when handling the response to a communicable disease pandemic. The difference between being in the containment or mitigation phase of an outbreak relies on the ability to find an existing tool like a disease surveillance system or knowledge management system, all in one place.
COVID-19 Hospital Impact Model for Epidemics (CHIME) is an open source application built by data scientists at Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The online tool allows hospitals to better understand the impact the virus will have on hospital demand.
Hospital leaders can use CHIME to “get more informed estimates of how many patients will need hospitalization, ICU beds, and mechanical ventilation over the coming days and weeks.” A user can input how many patients are currently hospitalized and see, based on other variables, how demand might increase over the coming days.
CHIME is primarily built with Python and uses the pandas open source dependency for much of the underlying data-transformation number-crunching to generate the estimates.
Real-time COVID-19 visualization by Locale.ai
Maps that track the number of cases help us visualize the relative scale and spread of COVID-19. Locale.ai created an open source, interactive visualization of all known cases of COVID-19. The map provides live updates with new data as it becomes available.
I find this project especially interesting because the data is retrieved via an open source API created by GitHub user ExpDev07 that queries an open source dataset from John Hopkins University. The John Hopkins dataset (an aggregate of more than a dozen other sources) is currently the most popular COVID19-related project on GitHub.
It was created in January and is one of the earliest responses from the open source community to COVID-19. When the virus was spreading primarily in China, the Chinese medical community was using a site called DXY.cn to report and track cases. To make the information more readily available and usable by others, GitHub user BlankerL wrote a web crawler to systematically collect data from the DXY.cn site and make it available via an API and data warehouse. That data has been used by academic researchers and others to examine trends and visualize the spread of the virus.
FACEBOOK OPEN-SOURCES COVID19 MEDICAL SUPPLIES
No, Facebook, isn’t doing anything directly with open-source software and the virus. This is a Facebook group devoted to creating an open-source ventilator, and it has widened its reach to open-sourcing other medical supplies. Ventilators are essential for taking care of people struggling to breathe in serious cases of coronavirus. The US has approximately 100,000 ventilators, and we may need many more. Other groups, such as EndCoronavirus, are also working on open-source ventilators.
The world is not going to stop spinning. Ideas will keep flowing, code will be written, new products will launch and existing ones will get new releases. The industry is going to survive, and will eventually bounce back. During this period of recovery, software companies are going to need to learn to do more with less.