Collective intelligence from crowdsourced forecast data will provide health sector leaders with new, actionable information to guide decision making about preparedness and response policies and interventions

The second phase of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security’s Collective Intelligence for Disease Prediction project is launching today. Volunteer predictors are needed to thoughtfully answer a set of forecasting questions on a weekly basis through December. The project gathers, analyzes, and disseminates collective intelligence from public health experts and expert predictors about the outcomes of potentially significant public health events.

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Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security are challenging the crowd to make predictions about future outbreaks and other related events for a project that will provide public health leaders with forecasting data to help inform their decisions on preparedness and response policies and interventions.

The project was launched in January 2019 and was announced broadly by ProMED. Over 560 predictors participated the first phase from January through June 2019.

The second phase of the project launches today, July 1. It runs through the end of the year. New predictors can sign up to participate now. Participation is open to public health experts, doctors, epidemiologists, modelers, risk experts, vector control officials, individuals with on-the-ground understanding of conditions surrounding disease outbreaks, and others who are interested in outbreaks.

“We’ve learned a lot about crowd forecasting disease outcomes over the past few months and are excited to expand our efforts to help develop new ways to guide policymakers during disease outbreaks. New, and our continuing, forecasters will help improve the prediction platform and provide new insights into what works and what doesn’t when predicting disease outcomes.,” said Tara Kirk Sell, PhD, senior scholar at the Center.

Sell and Senior Scholar Crystal Watson, DrPH, are leading the project team.

Throughout the project, the Center analyzes forecasting data from participants. The goal is to develop a prediction tool that provides useful, real-time predictive information to health security leaders responsible for preparing for, preventing, and responding to emerging infectious diseases and epidemics. All data collected will be used for research purposes and will not reveal any individually identifiable information.

Participants who make accurate predictions are eligible for a prize. The system—built on Lumenogic’s Prescience platform—records each participant’s latest forecast on every question. When a question is closed, the system computes the accuracy of each participant’s forecasts on that question, then compares it to the accuracy of other participants.

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A live leaderboard is accessible to anyone registered for the project through the platform online, where more information on purpose, methods, scoring, and prizes is available here.

The project is supported by funding from the Open Philanthropy Project.