The School of Business Administration and Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) organized a virtual hackathon called Latin American vs. Covid-19, which took place this weekend and that it also aimed to develop solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America. The meeting took place from June 19 to 21.
People from all over the world participated in this hackathon and jointly developed innovative projects to solve problems related to education, health, economy and access to reliable information.
The 48-hour virtual event has helped meet the most critical unmet needs that have arisen since the COVID-19 outbreak that lasted several months. Participants gathered teams on Friday, June 19, to resolve key issues and generate solutions, including proof-of-concepts, prototypes, and previews for execution.
The purpose of the projects presented during this virtual meeting is to have a relevant impact within three to six months in the Latin America region. Topics covered include: supporting the health system, protecting the most vulnerable, strengthening the informal economy and preventing disinformation.
Latin America vs Covid-19 is part of the “MIT COVID-19 Challenge” initiative, in which several teams from different disciplines are tasked with developing innovative solutions to deal with the worsening health, political and social crisis due to the pandemic in of the region. The participants met on June 19 to present their ideas, and then teams of five to seven participants were formed to develop the projects.
Over the next 48 hours, teams will work on these concepts with the support of mentors and organizations working with the initiative. And on June 21, they presented their final presentations to the jury. The winning projects were then selected for each of the segments mentioned.
UNESCO, Amazon Web Services, Bayer Pharmaceutical, IBM, Fundación Lemann, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Universidad del Pacífico Perú, Insper de Brasil, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Intersystems, RIMAC Seguros, Credicorp, Airtable, J- Pal and others take part in the challenge.
In this way, MIT is organizing the hackathon to engage the public to find solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winners have been announced recently
However, According to a recent publication, it was recently announced that the 30 winners were announced, of which three projects were selected for each of the 10 slogans that revolved around four main axes: the health system, the economy, education and information.
The winners will receive credits for Amazon’s AWS services and mentoring to further develop their ideas, which are currently only conceptual projects and have not yet been developed.
Supporting health systems
The best strategy to combat COVID-19 is to identify and isolate cases, and to develop new and reliable methods to identify, evaluate, and track patients with COVID-19 to prevent the virus from spreading. At the same time, people’s immunity status can be determined as this would allow people to safely return to the workforce.
However, the idea was to generate initiatives that would help optimize the benefits in this context of a pandemic. Within this department, an online protocol has been highlighted that can be used to identify individuals who may be at risk of receiving Covid-19 to anticipate and avoid future complications.
In addition to solutions that target medical care for control and immunization, an initiative was highlighted beyond Covid-19 that included the use of blockchain to ensure traceability and transparency in the delivery and use of vaccines among the population.
Help for the weakest
Pandemic limitations in personal social interaction have, in turn, created difficult challenges in delivering public and private services to the most vulnerable, as well as challenges for work, threats primarily affecting the informal sector.
Governments and private organizations have difficulties providing their regular services and providing financial and material aid. The food supply chain seems to fail those who need it most.
In most Latin American countries, immigrants and indigenous peoples face unique challenges: sometimes they are “invisible”, linguistic and cultural barriers, they live in rural areas with little or no access to public services, or they live in cities in densely populated communities, which means that they become more susceptible to the transmission of COVID-19. In general, their risks and livelihoods are very vulnerable to the pandemic.
Given these characteristics, the hackathon raises the question of how these communities can be supported to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers to access to health, financial and other services. Also about how artificial intelligence or other methods for performing medical examinations, tracking methods and measuring social distance can be used in this population group.
So, An automated system for the delivery of food in the most vulnerable residential areas was developed in this segment. It is a kind of “ATM” for the delivery of food that tries to solve the provision of food in this crisis context.
An initiative that included the development of an artificial intelligence database to develop predictive models to optimize early detection of health and economic emergencies was also highlighted.
Regarding disinformation, it can be said that humanity is being bombarded with information about COVID-19 from all sides. Some of the information is reliable, while other information is intentionally or unintentionally misleading and incorrect.
Information is constantly exchanged on social media, public media, governments, friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues. This is how you present the best and most current information about COVID-19 worldwide: virus, disease, management and treatment. It is also important to know how to separate accurate and objective information from subjective and biased information.
So, Projects have been developed to certify or support trusted information channels. Also, create a training program that instructs users to be aware of the signs they can consider when evaluating reliability. or accuracy of the informational content.
In terms of the economy, strategies have been developed to empower the actors who are part of the informal economy. An app was highlighted to connect artists with consumers and thus make their work directly visible. A payment platform specially developed for local merchants has also been developed.