Coronavirus: seven ways collective intelligence is tackling the pandemic

Article by Kathy Peach: “Tackling the emergence of a new global pandemic is a complex task. But collective intelligence is now being used around the world by communities and governments to respond.

At its simplest, collective intelligence is the enhanced capacity created when distributed groups of people work together, often with the help of technology, to mobilise more information, ideas and insights to solve a problem.

Advances in digital technologies have transformed what can be achieved through collective intelligence in recent years – connecting more of us, augmenting human intelligence with machine intelligence, and helping us to generate new insights from novel sources of data. It is particularly suited to addressing fast-evolving, complex global problems such as disease outbreaks.

Here are seven ways it is tackling the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Predicting and modelling outbreaks

On the December 31, 2019, health monitoring platform Blue Dot alerted its clients to the outbreak of a flu-like virus in Wuhan, China – nine days before the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement about it. It then correctly predicted that the virus would jump from Wuhan to Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.

Blue Dot combines existing data sets to create new insights. Natural language processing, the AI methods that understand and translate human-generated text, and machine learning techniques that learn from large volumes of data, sift through reports of disease outbreaks in animals, news reports in 65 languages, and airline passenger information. It supplements the machine-generated model with human intelligence, drawing on diverse expertise from epidemiologists to veterinarians and ecologists to ensure that its conclusions are valid.

2. Citizen science

The BBC carried out a citizen science project in 2018, which involved members of the public in generating new scientific data about how infections spread. People downloaded an app that monitored their GPS position every hour, and asked them to report who they had encountered or had contact with that day….(More).