Online collective intelligence course aims to improve responses to COVID-19 and other crises

PressRelease: “Working with 11 partner institutions around the world,  The Governance Lab (The GovLab) at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering today launches a massive open online course (MOOC) on “Collective Crisis Intelligence.” The course is free, open to anyone, and designed to help institutions improve disaster response through the use of data and volunteer participation. 

Thirteen modules have been created by leading global experts in major disasters such as the post-election violence in Kenya in 2008, the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, the Ebola crisis in 2014, the Zika outbreak in 2016, and the current coronavirus. The course is designed to help those responding to coronavirus make use of volunteerism. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches unprecedented proportions and spreads to more than 150 countries on six continents, policymakers are struggling to answer questions such as “How do we predict how the virus will spread?,” “How do we help the elderly and the homebound?,” “How do we provide economic assistance to those affected by business closures?,” and more. 

In each mini-lecture, those who have learned how to mobilize groups of people online to manage in a crisis present the basic concepts and tools to learn, analyze, and implement a crowdsourced public response. Lectures include

  • Introduction: Why Collective Intelligence Matters in a Crisis
  • Defining Actionable Problems (led by Matt Andrews, Harvard Kennedy School)
  • Three Day Evidence Review (led by Peter Bragge, Monash University, Australia)
  • Priorities for Collective Intelligence (led by Geoff Mulgan, University College London
  • Smarter Crowdsourcing (led by Beth Simone Noveck, The GovLab)
  • Crowdfunding (led by Peter Baeck, Nesta, United Kingdom)
  • Secondary Fall Out (led by Azby Brown, Safecast, Japan)
  • Crowdsourcing Surveillance (led by Tolbert Nyenswah, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States/Liberia)
  • Crowdsourcing Data (led by Angela Oduor Lungati and Juliana Rotich, Ushahidi, Kenya)
  • Mobilizing a Network (led by Sean Bonner, Safecast, Japan)
  • Crowdsourcing Scientific Expertise (led by Ali Nouri, Federation of American Scientists)
  • Chatbots and Social Media Strategies for Crisis (led by Nashin Mahtani,, Indonesia)
  • Conclusion: Lessons Learned

The course explores such innovative uses of crowdsourcing as Safecast’s implementation of citizen science to gather information about environmental conditions after the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant; Ushahidi, an online platform in Kenya for crowdsourcing data for crisis relief, human rights advocacy, transparency, and accountability campaigns; and “Ask a Scientist,” an interactive tool developed by The GovLab with the Federation of American Scientists and the New Jersey Office of Innovation, in which a network of scientists answer citizens’ questions about COVID-19.

More information on the courses is available at