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MIT Lab Seeks Collective Thinking on COVID-19

Pandemic Response CoLab

A new lab launched at MIT hopes to help people from around the world solve problems related to COVID-19. MIT's new Pandemic Response CoLab is a joint initiative of the university's Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) and the MIT Community Biotechnology Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. The CoLab will use an open online collaboration platform to invite individuals, businesses, communities and other kinds of groups to develop answers to pandemic problems.

For example, one recent post described a "social distancing" challenge: "Individuals, businesses, enterprises & others will need a device, wearable or app with 6 ft. distance geo-fencing notification capabilities." Another suggested the need for data interoperability: "One of the major problems in the times of COVID-19 is data interoperability. From Public Health, EMR, Genetics, Imaging, to Clinical Data." A third focused on the design of masks and face coverings.

"There are many people around the world who see problems posed by the pandemic and have smart, innovative ideas that could help solve those problems, but they lack the means of sharing and developing their ideas," explained Thomas Malone, a professor of management in MIT's Sloan School of Management and founding director of the CCI, in a statement. "An online platform like this allows us to create a community to harness the collective intelligence of these people, to identify problems, brainstorm solutions and find the needed people, funding and other resources to implement these solutions."

"Disruptive solutions are more likely to be found when we bring together a diversity of global perspectives," added David Sun Kong, director of the MIT Community Biotechnology Initiative.

MilliporeSigma, a life sciences company, is a founding member of the initiative, underwriting the program.

People can participate in the lab with registration.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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