Nonprofit think tank The Future Society, the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), UNESCO, and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation today announced the launch of the Collective and Augmented Intelligence Against COVID-19 (CAIAC), an alliance aiming to build an AI-powered pandemic decisioning tool for policymakers, health care leaders, and scientists. CAIAC, which will be advised by United Nations-affiliated organizations including UN Global Pulse, will attempt to structure the fast-expanding collection of health, social, and economic data on the pandemic through collaborations with companies like Stability.ai, C3.ai, Element AI, Axis, GLG, and Planet.

Research institutions, companies, and non-governmental organizations have rushed to apply analyses and models to data on the pandemic from countries around the world. Indeed, the number of studies about COVID-19 has risen steeply from the start of the crisis, from around 20,000 in early March to over 30,000 as of late June. Some false information has been promoted on social media and in publication venues like journals. And almost as bad, many results about the virus from different labs and sources are redundant, complementary, or even conflicting.

“We are purposefully not recreating the wheel,” Cyrus Hodes, chair of the alliance’s AI initiative, told VentureBeat via email. “Over the past few years, we’ve been working with UN partners, research centers, governments, and the private sector on setting up governance frameworks to address complex systems like climate change, the digital divide, etc. The pandemic has generated an overwhelming amount of data. Every country has their own approach to the unprecedented problems this has caused, with a fantastic array of bottom-up initiatives tackling various parts of this crisis. However, there is minimal sharing of knowledge and best practice and no locus to coordinate our global response. Furthermore, stakeholders across the world need to act quickly. Decisions that would have previously taken months of due diligence now must be taken in mere days. That’s where CAIAC comes in.”

CAIAC hopes to bring clarity to decision-makers in organizations, governments, and global entities through the creation of a minimum viable platform within the next six to eight weeks, focused on three use cases:

  1. Contact Tracing: With tracking and tracing of contagion via mobility data, CAIAC will help policymakers strike the balance between privacy and accuracy.
  2. The “Infodemic”: CAIAC will help identify sources of misinformation as well as make sense of existing approaches to respond to the infodemic.
  3. Bridging the Digital Divide: CAIAC will spotlight marginalized areas of the world that don’t have access to the same level of data and information on the pandemic and will be even more impacted over time (e.g., narrowing stimulus support and unequal healthcare outcomes). It will also help ensure that the pandemic impact is monitored in these regions — not just by the West — to inform appropriate interventions.

To build it, the alliance’s members say they’ll collaborate with technical, scientific, and civil society partners to collect data on COVID-19 and identify critical domains where information on the pandemic is needed most.

“CAIAC is a sense-making platform that helps decision-makers at all levels of society take sharp and timely actions to combat COVID-19. CAIAC maps the massive amount of COVID-19 data to create a holistic picture, integrates the knowledge of the foremost domain experts to generate reliable insight, and then augments this with high-speed AI to present a real-time map,” Hodes added. “CAIAC is unique because it’s connecting the private sector, civic society, academia, and policymakers with government and multilateral institutions, in a way that has not been done before by other partnerships and collaborations focused on combatting the impacts of COVID-19. We’re bridging the gaps between technology and data implementation and have access to much larger base of expertise in critical areas.”

The CAIAC platform will be available online with the goal of sharing it with UN partners in September (timed with the UN General Assembly) and with global governments soon afterward, according to Hodes. It will be open access and comprised of a series of knowledge graphs focused on the above-listed use cases that map various areas of expertise and data from the alliance’s collaborators. Users will be able to click into specific topic areas, such as seeing what specific countries have published in terms of guidance to combat the infodemic on COVID-19 and related insights from domain experts.

CAIAC is the latest in a growing list of collaborations targeting solutions to pandemic-induced problems. In March, Xprize unveiled the Pandemic Alliance, a coalition dedicated to accelerating solutions that can be applied to COVID-19. The COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium, an effort led by IBM, aims to provide supercomputing resources to promising research projects. Companies that have joined the Open COVID Pledge agree to make their intellectual property (IP) available for the fight against COVID-19. And Rolls-Royce’s Emer2gent says it will develop ways to support businesses and governments as they recover from the economic impact of COVID-19 by combining traditional economic, business, travel, and retail data sets with behavior and sentiment data.