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Have we built the data infrastructure and ecosystem needed to tackle pandemics and other dynamic threats?

Posted on 17th of March 2021 by Andrew Young, Andrew Zahuranec, Stefaan Verhulst

A year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic became real for people across the world. Though the spectre of the virus had been seen in the days and weeks before, by March 2020, normalcy gave way to a new reality. Billions learned unfamiliar terminology such as “social distancing” and “flattening the curve.” National and local leaders instituted restrictions on schools, businesses, and places of worship. Signs of sickness and death became unavoidable. As the toll mounted, leaders around the world scrambled to find ways to address each of these consequences.

It was in this context that The GovLab and its partners released A Call for Action Toward Building the Data Infrastructure and Ecosystem We Need to Tackle Pandemics and Other Dynamic, Societal, and Environmental Threats. The petition, signed by over 500 data leaders and practitioners across 63 countries, urged organizations to develop the data infrastructure and ecosystem needed to tackle the pandemic and other dynamic threats. To that end, it identified seven actions that data-driven organizations could adopt to make this goal possible. These actions — developing a governance framework, building capacity, establishing data stewards, building a network, engaging people, unlocking funds, and promoting technological innovation — also served as goals that The GovLab pursued its own work.

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