New Video on Participatory One Health Initiative in Thailand

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The Participatory One Health Disease Detection project (PODD) we’re supporting in Thailand with partners Chiang Mai University and OpenDream is an innovative new way to try to track disease outbreaks in animals to help reduce the change of spread to humans. A new video in the Bangkok Post, in Thai but with English subtitles, provides a nice overview of the initiative.  You can watch it here.

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One Health Participatory Surveillance in Thailand

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We’re working with Chiang Mai University and several local partners on a participatory surveillance initiative in Chiang Mai province in Thailand to see if self reporting on both human and animal symptoms can lead to better outcomes in limiting disease outbreaks. The project, PODD CM One Health, has been in the field for over a year now and we’re finding interesting results. The PODD team has created a series of videos, in English, that help explain different aspects of the work. You can watch one below that shows how the PODD system responds to an outbreak signal, and find the rest on PODD’s YouTube page here.

N Square Talks Nuclear Risks at PopTech

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N Square, the collaborative we’re supporting to bring new players and new ideas into the nuclear realm, presented at PopTech’s annual shindig a couple of weeks back. Erika Gregory, N Square’s executive director and Carl Robichaud, who leads the nuclear work at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the collaborative’s funding partners (along with the Hewlett and MacArthur Foundations, the Ploughshares Fund and us), presented from the main stage. Their talk provides good insights into why people should care about the nuclear issue and how N Square is working to reframe how people approach it.  Have a look!

 

Angry Birds Get Angry for Climate

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We provided some support for a climate change-focused Angry Birds Friends tournament, which kicked off today. We hope to be able to get good insights from the game about what kinds of climate messages seem to engage players the most. Plus, it’s fun! So we hope you’ll play. The Angry Birds folks were able to enlist a lot of global celebrities in creating the game. Watch the launch video below.

Crunching Flu Near You Data

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The Flu Near You project, a collaboration between the Skoll Global Threats Fund and HealthMap of Boston Children’s Hospital, recently published data from the disease tracking system that has now been in operation for over 3 1/2 years. Flu Near You collects limited demographic characteristic information upon registration and prompts users each Monday to report symptoms of influenza-like illness (ILI) experienced during the previous week. With increased participation, FNY has the potential to serve as a viable complement to existing outpatient, hospital-based, and laboratory surveillance systems.

The team summarized Flu Near You data from the 2012–2013 and 2013–2014 influenza seasons in the United States, calculating the descriptive statistics and rates of ILI for both seasons. Raw and noise-filtered ILI rates from Flu Near You were compared with ILI rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ILINet surveillance system. More than 61,000 participants submitted at least one report during the 2012–2013 season, totaling 327,773 reports. Nearly 40,000 participants submitted at least one report during the 2013–2014 season, totaling 336,933 reports. Rates of ILI as reported by Flu Near You tracked closely with ILINet in both timing and magnitude.

Although many established systems have the benefits of specificity and credibility, participatory systems offer advantages in speed, sensitivity, and scalability. Additional analyses to examine the most recent 2014-2015 influenza season are underway and the Flu Near You team is working with partners at health agencies around the United States to encourage the use of Flu Near You data to augment existing public health surveillance data. You can read more in this just published piece in the American Journal of Public Health here.

Innocentive Challenge on Water and Climate Shocks

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We live in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent, and complex world where the rapid exchange of goods, information, and ideas has brought opportunities and prosperity to many. Yet this increased interconnectivity has also given rise to a heightened vulnerability to systemic risks.

Skoll Global Threats Fund is partnering with Innocentive in a challenge to identify early indications of when a water or climatic event in one location, such as a flood, drought, or heatwave, may trigger direct and indirect impacts elsewhere in the world (for example: large scale migration, food insecurity, social unrest, infectious disease). This challenge:  “What are the ways in which we can identify early indications and/or patterns of complex events that can have triggering effects elsewhere in the world?” This project aims to contribute to an emerging field of big data and forecasting, and the proposed methodology would ideally allow for near-real time monitoring and a method for triggering alerts when early indications are identified.

We encourage you to look at the challenge and share widely within your networks.

EpiHack for Mass Gatherings Kicks Off in Rio

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We, along with our partners OpenDream, Epitrack, and InSTEDD, are hosting an EpiHack in Rio to explore the potential for participatory disease surveillance at mass gatherings. By letting people report on their own symptoms, can we get a better handle on disease outbreaks at big events like the World Cup, music festivals, the Olympics and more? We helped support a pilot project for mass gathering surveillance for the World Cup in Brazil last year. This week in Rio, hackers and public health officials from 11 countries around the world will work to develop concepts and, potentially, a prototype application for participatory surveillance for mass gatherings generally. You can track developments via the hashtag #hackforhealth, or following our partners twitter feeds at @epitrack, @opendream, @instedd, or @epihack.

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Skoll Joins White House-Led Public-Private Partnership on Climate Resilience

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The Skoll Global Threats Fund is a founding partner of the Climate Services for Resilient Development initiative, a public-private partnership launched by the White House today to provide climate services – including actionable science, data, information, tools, and training – to developing countries to strengthen their resilience to climate impacts. The other founding partners, in addition to the U.S. government, are the American Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, Esri, Google, Inter-American Development Bank, and the U.K. Government.  Our President, Annie Maxwell, participated on a panel of the founding partners at the launch event held at the United States Institute for Peace. You can read more about the partnership on the White House website here.

Moving from Response toward Recovery in Nepal

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In April, Nepal experienced a devastating earthquake and series of aftershocks that left more than 8,500 people killed and 20,000 injured. A number of Skoll Global Threats Fund grantees and partners are based in Nepal – they and their immediate families thankfully emerged safe. As the country transitions from immediate response towards medium and long-term recovery efforts, Skoll Global Threats Fund is providing support for our partners’ activities:

Following the earthquake of April 25, The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with 44 local NGOs and organizations, provided rapid emergency relief and assessment. Rapid, catalytic grants and relief materials have been provided to address emergency needs of over 20,000 survivors. Now entering the fifth week of post-quake assistance, The Asia Foundation has begun transitioning from relief to recovery, working closely with Nepali partners to support longer-term rebuilding efforts:  providing legal, dispute resolution, psychosocial, protection and education support services for marginalized/vulnerable communities; collaborating with village and municipal groups to assess and manage local dissatisfaction surrounding relief efforts; and conducting relief impact assessments and public perception surveys to track the public mood, as well as other social and relief-related issues.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is drawing on its technical expertise to create a Task Force on Geo-hazards to assess the impact of geophysical hazards like landslides and avalanches, and monitor potential hazards, including glacial lake outbursts, rivers blocked by landslides, and the threat of landslides in areas where slopes have been destabilized by the earthquake. These studies provide relevant information to government agencies, relief groups, development organizations, and the global community.

Internews/Third Pole Project is working with local radio and media organizations to ensure information is coordinated and reaches all affected communities. Additionally, they are working to consolidate relevant data on locations of affected populations and high damage, map radio stations (affected and non affected), identify areas vulnerable to landslides, and track road blockages for teams doing assessment and response. Such information helps response teams make informed decisions. This information has been placed in an interactive web platform and is publically accessible.