Build solutions for Latin America in the COVID-19 crisis

The Latin America vs. COVID-19 virtual hackathon was a 48-hour event focused in building solutions that address the most pressing issues of the COVID-19 crisis in Latin America.

— Event Kickoff —

— Awards Ceremony —

— Congratulations to the Winning Teams —

— Challenge Prompts —

SUPPORTING THE HEALTH SYSTEMS

  • Track A. Identifying the COVID-19 Immune
    Since the best strategy to fight COVID-19 is to identify cases and isolate them, we need to develop new and reliable methods to identify, test and trace patients with COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus. At the same time, we need to identify immunity status, as this would allow people to return safely to the workforce. 
    What new technologies can we use to achieve these goals? How can we manage the silent risk of asymptomatic (and unaware) infected people? How can we estimate how many have been infected, identify them and locate them in a timely manner?
  • Track B. New ways to deliver care in a COVID-19 world
    Epidemics have a devastating impact on health outcomes beyond the virus itself. Fearing infection, people avoid entering the health system and accessing care even for routine needs. Additionally, health systems in the region are highly fragmented and inequalities permeate private and public health.
    How can we ensure that we maintain ongoing access to safe spaces for health services, including maternal care, childbirth, and routine immunization, amongst others services? What alternative health care delivery models could we harness to eliminate gaps in care intensified (or brought about) by the current crisis? Although telehealth is a good large-scale example, what other models could work? How can we use technologies to deliver care and tackle down inequalities?
  • Track C. Health systems asset coordination, distribution and conversion
    As cities prepare for continued community spread and potential surge in COVID-19 patients, many are looking for new ways to convert existing spaces to treat more COVID-19 patients while finding new spaces to separate non-COVID-19 patients such as hospital tents. How can we more efficiently and creatively provide new expandable places, flex existing spaces based on active needs, provide better predictions on upcoming needs? Could we take advantage of available data to help inform hospitals to plan for surge capacity?
    How can we coordinate the needs of health systems (primary health and hospitals, medical supplies, lab supplies, research supplies, medical equipment, food, electronics, etc.)? How do we provide a less hands-on automated way to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff?
  • Track D. Healthcare workforce well-being (all population well-being), management and training
    As the impact of COVID-19 on hospital systems and health care workforces continues, how can we best help hospitals quickly shift human resources, redeploy healthcare workers appropriately based on skills sets, and quickly train current/new healthcare workers to fill certain needs of the health system while protecting the physical and mental well-being of our healthcare workforce?

PROTECTING THE MOST VULNERABLE

  • Track E. Strengthening the supply of public and private goods and services for the most vulnerable
    Restrictions on in-person social interactions due to the pandemic have created tremendous challenges in the supply of private and public services to the most vulnerable populations as well as challenges to work, considering that these populations mostly work in the informal sector. Governments, private and non-profit organizations are struggling to provide their regular services and deliver financial and material relief. The food supply chain seems to be failing those who are most in need.
    How can we support governments and other organizations as they deliver relief? How can we address the challenges that vulnerable populations confront in accessing government support? How can we address the challenges of the food supply chain for those most in need?
  • Track F. Supporting marginalized communities confronting the pandemic
    In most Latin American countries, immigrant and indigenous populations are confronting unique challenges: they are sometimes “invisible”, they confront linguistic and cultural barriers, they may live in rural areas with low or no access to public services, or they live in the big cities in more densely populated communities which makes them more susceptible to the transmission of COVID-19. In general, their economies and means of living are highly vulnerable in the pandemic.
    Considering these characteristics,  how can we reach out to support the communities to bridge the cultural and linguistic barriers to access health, financial and other services? How can they be empowered? How can AI or other methods be used to support culturally-sensitive testing, tracing methods, and social distancing measures in marginalized populations?
  • Track G. Educating in times of the pandemic
    Across Latin America, the educational systems have been severely disrupted. Schools and colleges have shuttered their physical doors, forcing millions out of the classroom. For those kids, young adults, and their families living in vulnerable conditions, the new challenges are aggravated by limited or nonexistent access to means available to the rest of the population, like computers, the internet, and others.
    How do we build solutions to mitigate the effects of this paradigm shift? How can schools and teachers reach out to those with limited access to telecommunication? How can we support and assist the social, physical, and emotional development of children and young adults?

PREVENTING MISINFORMATION

  • Track H. Surfacing and Communicating the COVID-19 Truth
    We are being bombarded with information on COVID-19 from all sides.  Some information is reliable, while other information is either intentionally or unintentionally misleading and incorrect.  Information is constantly shared around social media, public media, governments, friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues.  How do we surface the best and most current information about COVID-19 on a global level: the virus, the disease, the management, and treatment?  How do we separate accurate, objective information from subjective and biased information? How do we then effectively and efficiently communicate this information to the public and between institutions?

EMPOWERING THE INFORMAL ECONOMY

  • Track I. Promoting e-commerce and ensuring continuity of payments in Latin America
    The informal economy in Latin America is very large, but so is the mistrust in online channels. This is a clear issue reflected in the online and e-commerce penetration in countries in the region. The COVID-19 crisis is incentivizing consumers to purchase and use items without physical interaction. This also requires an ability to ensure the continuity of payments and more formal engagement with small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
    How can existing institutions (e.g. banks) help generate confidence between the consumer and the supplier? How to manage if there are transaction errors or goods are not delivered in its entirety? How to support SMEs to trust electronic payment methods the same way they trust physical payments? How to guarantee that credit provided to a client will be paid back? How to ensure the accuracy of reported metrics?
  • Track J. Verifying the use of funds to reactivate the economy
    Many countries are injecting money into the economy to reactivate economic activity, either via credit, changes in interest rates or similar actions. However, it is very difficult to ensure or validate that a credit or financial support has been used for the intended purposes, such as reactivating a business (SMEs for instance).
    How can the government and/or financial institutions help validate or review that financial support provided is used for the intended purposes? How to help identify who are the ‘bad actors’ that are not using the funds for their intended purpose? What digital solutions could help prevent the misuse of funds that target economic relief and/or social benefit for the most affected regions? 

— Agenda —

All times in EST
Friday, June 19, 2020

7 PM – 8:30 PM: Kickoff Meeting

8:30 PM – 9:00 PM: Problem Pitching

9:00 PM Onwards: Team Formation

Saturday, June 20, 2020

10:00 AM: Finalized Teams Due

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: How-to-Pitch Webinar

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Practice Pitch Sessions

Sunday, June 21, 2020

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Practice Pitch Sessions

11:30 AM: Final Pitch Slides Due

1 PM – 3:00 PM: Final Pitch Presentations

3:00 PM – 4 PM: Judge Deliberations

4 PM – 5 PM: Award Ceremony 

— KEYNOTE SPEAKERS —

— Frequently Asked Questions —

General Information

WHAT IS THE MIT COVID-19 CHALLENGE? 

The MIT COVID-19 Challenge is a series of virtual hackathons. During these hackathons, multi-disciplinary teams will collaborate to develop innovative solutions that can help address the COVID-19 crisis. We are focused on connecting teams with the tools and resources needed to develop mature solutions that can be implemented by our partners. After each event in the Challenge, selected teams will have the opportunity to bring their solutions to life with the support of our partners.

 

WHAT IS LATIN AMERICA VS. COVID-19?

Latin America vs. COVID-19 is our next event under the MIT COVID-19 Challenge series, taking place June 19-21, 2020.

In this 48-hour virtual event, we will help tackle the most critical unmet needs that have arisen now that we are several months into the COVID-19 outbreak. Participants will form teams on Friday, June 19th to home in on key problems and generate solutions, including proof of concepts, prototypes, and preliminary vision for execution. Throughout the weekend, teams will connect with mentors to refine their solutions. On Sunday, June 21st, teams will reconvene to present their work before a panel of expert judges. After the weekend, the best ideas and teams will have the opportunity to co-develop and implement their solution with the support of our partners.

IN WHICH LANGUAGES WILL BE THE EVENT HELD?

English will be this event’s primary language, however all sessions and  materials will be made accessible in Spanish and Portuguese.

Event-wide presentations will be delivered in English with Spanish and Portuguese translator support.

Participant teams’ final presentations will be delivered in English. Each team will be required to have at least one member who is fluent in English.

WHERE IS THE CHALLENGE TAKING PLACE? 

This is a virtual event. Teams will work together throughout the two-day event using tools such as Zoom, Google Drive, and/or Slack. 

WHEN WILL THE CHALLENGE TAKE PLACE?

The virtual challenge will take place from Friday, June 19 through Sunday, June 21. More information about the schedule will be posted soon.  

HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO COMMIT?

The Challenge is a 48-hour sprint beginning on Friday afternoon (June 19) and ending on Sunday afternoon (June 21). Since the goal is to rapidly bring meaningful solutions to life, participants should expect to commit Friday evening, most of Saturday, and Sunday morning/early afternoon to the Challenge. Participants do not need to be available 24/7 for the duration of the event but should communicate their availability to team members.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE WEEKEND?

After the weekend, the best ideas and teams will have the opportunity to co-develop and implement their solution with the support of our partners.

WHAT DO WINNING TEAMS GET?

Winning teams will receive organizational support, computing resources, and direct access to key partners to further develop, validate and implement solutions developed. 

WHO OWNS THE PRODUCT/SOLUTIONS TEAMS CREATE? 

In an effort to expedite the development and implementation of solutions developed in this event, all products and solutions developed in this event will be open source. All products and solutions developed during this event will be subject to the terms below:

The following terms apply to participation in the Latin America vs. COVID-19 hackathon (“Hackathon”). Entrants may create original solutions, prototypes, datasets, scripts, or other content, materials, discoveries or inventions (a “Submission”). The Hackathon is organized by the MIT COVID19 Challenge: Latin America vs. COVID-19 Organizing Team.

Entrants retain ownership of all intellectual and industrial property rights (including moral rights) in and to Submissions.

As a condition of submission, Entrant grants the Hackathon Organizer, its subsidiaries, agents and partner companies, without restrictions, a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, distribute, publicly perform, create a derivative work from, and publicly display the Submission.

Entrants provide Submissions on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied, including, without limitation, any warranties or conditions of TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Entrant represents and warrants that, to the best of his or her knowledge, any work product is Entrant’s own original work and is not within the intellectual property rights of any third party, including any former or current employers. If you are unsure, you should consult any former or current employment agreement to which you are a party. Under no circumstances will Hackathon Organizer be liable to you or any third party for any damages, direct or otherwise, arising out of use of this hackathon work product.

Participation 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE? 

We are seeking a diverse group of participants. Participants ages 13+ of all experience levels, professional and academic backgrounds, and skill sets are welcome; what matters most is your commitment to making an impact and your willingness to collaborate. 

DO I HAVE TO HAVE A TECHNICAL OR CLINICAL BACKGROUND TO PARTICIPATE? 

No! Participants of all academic and professional backgrounds are welcome! Technical or medical experience is always helpful, but it is not required. 

DO I HAVE TO BE AN MIT STUDENT OR MIT AFFILIATED TO PARTICIPATE? 

No! Participants do not need to be affiliated with MIT, just need to be eager to participate! As above, technical or medical experience is always helpful, but it is not required. 

HOW DO I APPLY? 

Please complete the application form found here. Applications are due by June 16 at 11:59 PM ET

If you are applying with a team, all team members must submit individual applications

WHEN WILL I HEAR BACK ABOUT MY APPLICATION?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and our review team will try its best to respond to applications within a few days of receiving them. The latest you should hear back by is the afternoon on Thursday, June 18.

HOW ARE APPLICATIONS EVALUATED?

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Emphasis will be placed on ensuring  a diversity of skill sets and demographics are represented among participants. You will receive an email from the MIT COVID-19 Challenge team with an update regarding your acceptance. 

 

HOW ARE TEAMS FORMED?

Participants will work together in teams of 5-7 members. We strongly encourage participants to apply individually, and form teams at the event – this event is not designed for pre-existing teams other than teams continuing from the previous Beat the Pandemic event. Teams will be formed by the participants themselves.

DO I NEED TO COME WITH AN IDEA?

The Challenge is focused on solving some of the most pressing problems that are resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Participants are encouraged to come with these problems in mind, but you don’t need to have an answer in hand. You’ll work with teams to develop solutions that will have a meaningful impact on the COVID-19 crisis. 

WHAT TOOLS/RESOURCES WILL BE PROVIDED? 

Teams will be connected with technical resources, data sets, developer platforms and experienced mentors throughout the weekend to help them create, iterate, build, and develop solutions as quickly as possible.

Support 

HOW DO I BECOME A MENTOR? 

Please complete the application form found here.

WHAT IS EXPECTED OF MENTORS?

Mentors will work with teams based on their experience and expertise. Mentors do not need to be available for the entire weekend. Once mentors have been accepted, they will select one or more 3-hour shifts that best accommodate their schedule.

HOW DOES MY ORGANIZATION/COMPANY BECOME A PARTNER?

Thank you for your interest! Please email covid19latam@mit.edu. A member of the organizing team will contact you to determine how your organization’s expertise, resources, and reach can be most effectively utilized as a part of this effort.

Miscellaneous

WHAT IF I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN ANSWERED? 

If you have additional questions or press inquiries, please email covid19latam@mit.edu.