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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced that Dimagi and partners have been awarded a Combating Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenge — joining a select group of innovators focused on curbing infectious disease worldwide.

Through this project, Dimagi will be working with the Arnhold Institute for Global Health at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to forecast potential hot spots by identifying communities where little to no data exists, or data “cold spots.” Using predictive algorithms, the team will build a platform that pairs CommCare data with DigitalGlobe imagery over the ATLAS platform, enabling the ability to identify cold spots and protect the most vulnerable communities from becoming disease hot spots. This technology will be first implemented with the Guatemalan NGO TulaSalud (supported by the Tula Foundation), who has built a sophisticated frontline health worker digital service on the CommCare Platform.

This project represents an exciting new capability for CommCare — one in which we are leveraging existing mobile applications and data sets used by health workforces in novel ways,” Dimagi CEO Jonathan Jackson said. “As a result of this technology, hundreds of pre-existing CommCare projects in 60 countries will be able to take advantage of better analytics and insights without additional work on their end. We can’t wait to see what kind of impact this will have on curbing future disease outbreaks, both for Zika and other diseases.”

The ability to proactively respond to epidemics depends upon having accurate, reliable information that is tied to service delivery capabilities,” said Prabhjot Singh, MD, PhD, Director, Arnhold Institute for Global Health and Chair, Department of Health System Design and Global Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We have developed a tool that will enable ministries and other key decision makers to find these cold spots and intervene—preventing outbreaks of disease from becoming epidemics and thus averting massive financial costs, as well as significant morbidity and mortality.”

TulaSalud is thrilled to work with Dimagi and the Arnhold Institute for Global Health on this project,” Tula CTO RayBrunsting said. “As an organization, we are leveraging and scaling CommCare as a frontline mobile service delivery tool across our workforce, while also creating our own tools and systems to map incoming data. By combining this functionality together, there’s so much potential to further strengthen not only our digital health services systems, but so many other organizations’ as well.”

In February 2015, USAID awarded Dimagi for the Information Communication Technology category of the Fighting Ebola: a Grand Challenge for Development award. Through this award, Dimagi worked with numerous Ebola response organizations in West Africa to build CommCare mobile applications for contact tracing and/or the diagnostic/lab tracking.

We are extremely proud of these Grand Challenge awards from USAID because they allow us to support ground-breaking frontline programs with innovative solutions for existing disease outbreak and future threats,” Jackson said.

You can read the full press release announcing the Grand Challenge to Combat Zika and Future Outbreaks, and learn about the other projects that have been funded through this Grand Challenge effort. You can also read Mount Sinai’s press release about the partnership here.