Join the fight to support critical open source infrastructure
March 17, 2020;
2 min read
Health systems across the world are struggling to prepare for an unpredictable burden as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. Digital tools like CommCare, OpenDataKit, and DHIS2 provide health systems with critical functions during an outbreak, like disease surveillance, contract tracing, behavior change, and clinical diagnostics, which is why Dimagi is giving pro bono SaaS subscriptions to all COVID-19 response applications through May 2021.
CommCare’s open source codebase is the product of hundreds of projects worth of collaborative development effort into tools for responding to Ebola, Zika, and endemic diseases like malaria over the last decade. Health organizations have put CommCare based tools into the hands of more than 600,000 Frontline Workers globally to cover a population of 500 Million people, so the success of this approach illustrates the unique value that open source provides in solutions for public health and the importance of ongoing investment into those codebases.
Open Source is critical digital infrastructure
In outbreak situations where time is a vital asset, robust digital infrastructure cannot be invented on short notice. A 2018 study that reviewed 58 specific mobile health tools used during the outbreak found that only two tools, including CommCare, supported all seven technical characteristics and the four key functionalities relevant to EVD outbreak response. This readiness allowed organizations like Columbia University to rapidly deploy tools for disease management into the field early in the epidemic before many development agencies even released funds to develop novel technical solutions, many of which weren’t even available before it ended.
Most importantly, after the initial West Africa Epidemic ended, ongoing Open Source maintenance and development ensured that those solutions were still mission-ready years later to address the Kivu Ebola epidemic centered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where multiple organizations rapidly deploy improved versions of the tools. Open Source is a critical tool to allow us to keep building on tools that solve the complex challenges faced in reaching the last mile of technology’s reach in an ongoing way, rather than restarting every epidemic. This is essential to meet the needs of global health challenges, where priorities change rapidly.
Join the fight today
Open source infrastructure like CommCare plays an important role in efforts to control COVID-19, but like all infrastructure, it requires ongoing investment to be ready when it’s needed. We are teaming up with Github to seek champions to impact global health outcomes by sponsoring the team that makes it possible. By becoming a sponsor, your support will enable our team not only to ensure that CommCare can help organizations provide a rapid response to COVID-19, but that we are investing in key maintenance and improvements to be ready for the next big global health challenge.