We are ahead of the next pandemic

The data and technology will take into account the significant impact on the new Pandemic Response Institute in New York (PRI), an organization that will apply the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic to other health emergencies.

Mayor Eric Adams announced the launch of PRI on May 10th. Through a new partnership with Columbia University and the New York University School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) and in coordination with the New York Department of Health and Psychological Hygiene (DOHMH) and New York Emergency Management The institute will work in communities in five districts of the city to develop local health solutions, information and resources to prepare for, respond to and recover from future health crises, May reports. 10 press release.

To achieve this goal, the PRI will have four technical cores: innovation and scaling; data collection, exchange and translation; epidemiology and modeling; and the potential and readiness of the workforce.

“One of the initial things we’re doing is that we’re considering what systems really need to be in place to enable all of these different capabilities,” said Dr. Bruce I. Lee, PRI’s chief technology officer.

Tasks for which the data group will be responsible include analyzing data flows on health emergencies, developing a framework for sustainable and streamlined cooperation, and identifying and developing new data flows.

But the PRI will be more than data collection, Lee added. “There is a difference between collecting data on communities and neighborhoods and very careful involvement in them,” he said. “One of the problems [during the pandemic] people feel detached from making decisions, and that’s why you really want people all over the city to be more connected to each other so that everyone really understands what’s going on. ”

To do this, the team will consider how people use technology to communicate to streamline messaging across all communities. The cacophony of information has led to wide variations in the use of face masks and vaccine recognition, for example.

“One of the difficult things that happened during the pandemic was so many messages that were heard everywhere – messages at the local, regional and national levels. You get messages on social media and from different types of politicians and individuals, and people have had a hard time figuring out what’s real and what’s unreal, ”said Lee, who is also a professor of health policy and management at CUNY SPH. .

Another upcoming event is the use of computer simulations to solve current pandemic problems. “We must remember that the pandemic is not over, and there are still issues and decisions that need to be made,” he said.

However, in the long run the team has three main goals. One is to increase the capacity of DOHMH in modeling and using epidemiological and other data to study future health risks. Others are developing forecasts and forecasts of the impact of emergencies in health, social and economic health and are developing modeling of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical activities, according to PRI website.

This ability to predict is crucial because it allows for proactive response to prevent health threat spikes – something that simply did not happen during this pandemic, Lee said. Despite the fact that businesses and schools closed in the spring of 2020, when the contagion got out of control, “our society has never caught up. It was more responsive to the races, ”he said. “There would be a surge and you would react by applying extra precautions, while precautions work best before jumping.”

Computer simulations can predict what might happen by allowing officials to put in place before the jumps.

“The COVID-19 pandemic in many cases did not create new problems. It has revealed existing problems, ”Lee said. “Solving them or solving them can help the city from an everyday point of view. For example, a better understanding of what is happening in the community and a better exchange of data can help in a number of things, not just in emergencies. ”

In addition to collaborating with urban government agencies, PRI also has partnerships with nonprofits, research, religious, and corporate organizations that have played a role in the city’s pandemic. Last year, the city published a call for proposals for the institute and allocated $ 20 million to fund the eligible costs of Colombia and CUNY SPH.

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer living in northern Virginia.

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