Importance of Open Data Accessibility During Unprecedented World Health Crisis

One of the most important elements of maintaining global health, specifically during the current times of a world health crisis, is the creation and dissemination of reliable, up-to-date scientific information.

With cases of COVID-19 quickly surpassing 1.9 million globally, and continuing to rapidly grow, there is an increased urgency for the entire scientific community to work together. With increased efforts of openly sharing COVID-19 related research it will make it easier to address and mitigate the effects of the outbreak.

There is a current race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, demonstrating creating unrestricted access to scientific research and educational materials is of utmost importance during an unprecedented world health crisis. Providing the open access of relevant research and data will better allow scientists to decode the many mysteries of the virus and thus find a treatment or vaccine. 

On March 13, government science advisors from 12 countries published an open letter asking publishers to make scientific research and data on COVID-19 open access. “Given the urgency of the situation,” the letter said, “it is particularly important that scientists and the public can access research outcomes as soon as possible.” 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is playing a role in assessing and responding to COVID-19’s potential impacts on people’s life and livelihoods, global food trade, markets, food supply chains and livestock. FAO is working closely with WHO, WFP, IFAD and OIE and other partners, harnessing broad networks to drive further research, support ongoing investigations and sharing critical knowledge. FAO has a dedicated site to COVID-19 on fao.org. Visit fao.org/2019-ncov for more information.

On top of that, the COVID-19 crisis threatens to impact the livelihoods of the world’s poorest, of whom a majority depend on agriculture. According to Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), the majority of people living with the threat of food insecurity are children, women and the elderly, many of whom rely on agriculture for survival. Of the 2.5 billion people in poor countries living directly from the food and agriculture sector, 1.5 billion come from smallholder households. Many of those households are extremely poor, since the highest incidence of working families below the poverty line rely on agriculture for employment. Open data is critical to gaining a better understanding of this. 

A call to action from the The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to the U.S. artificial intelligence experts to develop new text and data mining techniques that can help the science community answer high-priority scientific questions related to COVID-19.

Many scientists, researchers and institutions from around the world have answered the call to action to work together during this unprecedented world health crisis. 

OpenAIRE - in collaboration with the EC and other key EOSC players ELIXIR, EMBL and RDA - is doing its part in this crisis by establishing a COVID-19 Open Research Gateway to provide a single entry point to COVID-19 resources, working closely with (European) disciplinary research infrastructures. This COVID-19 Gateway will leverage OpenAIRE’s long-held experience in gathering and inferring diverse research with a particular topic and will be a fast collaborative exercise in identifying valuable resources from a vast range of scholarly information.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Allen Institute for AI has partnered with leading research groups to prepare and distribute the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), a free resource of over 47,000 scholarly articles, including over 36,000 with full text, about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses for use by the global research community. Learn more.

STM’s members have acted rapidly and decisively to support the continued global response to the rapid worldwide spread of COVID-19 with immediate access to accurate and validated articles and monographs that the public can trust. More than 32,000 articles, chapters and other resources have been made findable and usable in this manner. Learn more.

If you are aware of other initiatives please comment to this post or send to AIMS@fao.org.


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