MIT COVID-19 Challenge India hackathon open for innovators
Even as the world awaits the COVID-19 vaccine, attempts are being made worldwide to create solutions to better tackle the health crisis that the pandemic has unleashed.
To further the cause of innovative, effective, and low-cost solutions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is empowering several regions, including India, Latin America, and Africa among others with its MIT COVID-19 challenge, a series of hackathons to take action against the pandemic.
Massachusetts-based wePool was born out of MIT’s COVID-19 challenge after the team won the first ‘MIT Beat the Pandemic Challenge’ in April 2020. The startup also went on to win the second round of the hackathon, ‘Beat the Pandemic II’, in June.
In an email interaction with YourStory, Co-Founder and CEO of wePool Guillermo Siman explains that the startup has developed a way to increase COVID-19 testing capacity by up to 300 percent by using artificial intelligence to weed out probable COVID-19 cases from pools of likely negative ones.
This winning idea received a total of $10,500 in grant funding as part of the MIT hackathons.
“wePool applies AI technology to predict an individual’s disease probability and uses it to segment the test population into distinct pools. By using information like symptoms, vitals, location, and contact tracing, wePool AI can strategically predict negative sample pools, minimising the probability of a positive sample and allowing laboratories to reliably clear multiple subjects with a single test. Through this method, wePool could save up to 70 percent of tests utilised and increase laboratory testing capacity by 300 percent,” Guillermo said in a statement.
The institute is now looking to host its seventh edition of the MIT-led hackathon series, ‘India: Turning the Tide,’ where teams from across the world coming from universities, private sector, government, and NGOs, among others will come together, collaborate, and create solution to address the critical needs emerged across India due to the pandemic.
The last date for the application is today, August 26, 2020.
India: Turning the Tide
According to the official statement released by the institute, the 48-hour hackathon will revolve around four themes:
1) promotion of effective and practical solutions to support underserved populations
2) revive the informal economy while mitigating the risks of the spread of the virus
3) strengthen the Indian healthcare system and also improve the lives of healthcare professionals
4) curb the spread of misinformation and expand the dialogue to ensure critical information is available on time.
“India, with its population density and the scale of its informal sector is facing some unprecedented and unique challenges that call for extraordinary leadership from the community. Many of the strategies that have been adopted at a smaller scale or in the early stages of the pandemic become practically impossible to sustain long-term, without trade-offs,” said Rao V. Mantri and Geethanjali Gopal (MIT Executive MBA ’20), organisers of this edition.
They also added that the event is looking for participants coming from diverse categories and there is no compulsory requirement for coding experience.
48 hours of innovation and problem solving
During the hackathon, the participants will need to form teams by August 28 and reveal their problem statement and pitch their solutions. Following this, the teams will need to develop solutions, including proof of concepts, prototypes, and preliminary vision for execution under the guidance of the mentors.
On August 30, the teams will be expected to present their solution. The winner with the most promising idea will get the opportunity to co-develop and implement the solution.
“A number of solutions born out of these hackathons are being implemented, one such example is wePool, for efficient COVID-19 screening. We look forward to similar success with this event,” said Freddy Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT and event organiser.
The institute is aiming for a long-lasting and scalable solution from this hackathon that can be implemented in the country. The success of this edition will also inevitably spur new hackathons in other regions thereby empowering the world to combat the global health crisis.
Apply here for ‘India: Turning the Tide’.
Edited by Dipti Nair
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