The current global crisis we are experiencing is affecting everybody, in every location and in every personal and professional situation. This trouble times are also the occasion to witness the importance of citizen-led and collaborative initiatives and social innovations.
From producing medical supplies to gathering collective knowledge to find treatments, not to mention self-help networks, it seems like the community has proven its resilience and has demonstrated its innovative and creative capacities in a challenging context.
Such projects have been flourishing all around the planet and have shown to be essential to complete or replace the official social actions that are often insufficient. In a series of articles, we will showcase a few of them, not to have an exhaustive list of all the actions that are taken but more an overview of their diversity.
And let’s start with…
Getting to the roots of the problem & directly fighting Corona Virus
Every citizen can help medical research to understand the virus, how it operates and how it spreads.
Nationally, different tools allow people to report their symptoms when tests are not available. For example in the UK, a COVID Symptom Tracker was designed by doctors and scientists at King’s College London, Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals working in partnership with ZOE Global Ltd – a health science company. In Denmark, Influencer is based on voluntary efforts by citizens who, regardless of whether they have sought medical attention or received treatment, report weekly on whether they have had symptoms and thus contribute to knowledge about dissemination in the community. Global tools are also available, such as Quantified Flu. These statistics will be used by scientists to track the pandemic more accurately.
More than that, the population can get actively involved in the research of a treatment or a vaccine.
Citizen science has taken this opportunity to create games such as Foldit in which participants have to design a protein that might help keep a person’s immune system under control. Results are then used to enhance existing computer programs at pattern-folding tasks, which might lead to finding a cure.
Citizens are also invited to bring their innovative minds to the front and take part in Hackathons develop innovative solutions for coronavirus-related challenges. The European Commission organised the EUvsVirus hackathon on 24-25-26 April, which was joined by over 20,900 participants. The following event, the #EUvsVirus Matchathon, which will gather the winning projects, will take place on 22 – 25 May.