Digital Citizen Science Observatory
A key challenge in monitoring, managing, and mitigating public health crises, whether communicable or non-communicable, in the age of polycrisis, is the need to coordinate clinical decision-making with systems outside of health (i.e., food systems, social welfare). In this digital age, human engagement with and through Internet-connected devices generates an enormous amount of big data, which can be used to address complex, intersectoral problems. The use of these big data, which traditionally exist outside of healthcare systems, has significant implications for prediction and prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases. To address significant challenges and gaps in utilization of big data across sectors to predict and prevent public health crises, a Digital Citizen Science Observatory is being developed by the Digital Epidemiology and Population Health Laboratory by scaling up existing digital health infrastructure.
The Digital Citizen Science Observatory’s development is informed by the Smart Framework, which leverages ubiquitous devices for ethical surveillance, integrated knowledge translation, and real-time interventions. The Digital Citizen Science Observatory will be operationalized by implementing a rapidly adaptable, replicable, and scalable progressive web application that repurposes jurisdiction-specific cloud infrastructure to address citizen-specific needs within and across jurisdictions. The observatory is designed to be highly adaptable for both rapid data collection as well as rapid responses to emerging and existing crises prioritized by jurisdictional decision-makers. Data sovereignty and decentralization of technology are core aspects of the observatory, where citizens own data they generate, and researchers and decision-makers are able to repurpose digital health infrastructure by scaling it up or down. The ultimate implication of the Digital Citizen Science Observatory is to break existing jurisdictional silos in addressing existential crises by ethically leveraging big data from citizens, responding rapidly to evolving needs, and by sharing evidence securely across jurisdictions to inform local solutions to global problems.