To mitigate the costs of future pandemics, establish a common data space

Article by Stephanie Chin and Caitlin Chin: “To improve data sharing during global public health crises, it is time to explore the establishment of a common data space for highly infectious diseases. Common data spaces integrate multiple data sources, enabling a more comprehensive analysis of data based on greater volume, range, and access. At its essence, a common data space is like a public library system, which has collections of different types of resources from books to video games; processes to integrate new resources and to borrow resources from other libraries; a catalog system to organize, sort, and search through resources; a library card system to manage users and authorization; and even curated collections or displays that highlight themes among resources.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was significant momentum to make critical data more widely accessible. In the United States, Title II of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018, or the OPEN Government Data Act, requires federal agencies to publish their information online as open data, using standardized, machine-readable data formats. This information is now available on the federal catalog and includes 50 state- or regional-level data hubs and 47 city- or county-level data hubs. In Europe, the European Commission released a data strategy in February 2020 that calls for common data spaces in nine sectors, including healthcare, shared by EU businesses and governments.

Going further, a common data space could help identify outbreaks and accelerate the development of new treatments by compiling line list incidence data, epidemiological information and models, genome and protein sequencing, testing protocols, results of clinical trials, passive environmental monitoring data, and more.

Moreover, it could foster a common understanding and consensus around the facts—a prerequisite to reach international buy-in on policies to address situations unique to COVID-19 or future pandemics, such as the distribution of medical equipment and PPE, disruption to the tourism industry and global supply chains, social distancing or quarantine, and mass closures of businesses….(More). See also Call for Action for a Data Infrastructure to tackle Pandemics and other Dynamic Threats.