International Digital Health & AI Research Collaborative

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Acronym: I-DAIR

Address: Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2A, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: www.i-dair.org

Stakeholder group: Initiatives and processes

I-DAIR is an independent global platform based in Geneva with the mission of enabling and improving access to inclusive, impactful, and responsible research into digital health and artificial intelligence for health.

I-DAIR’s vision is to catalyse a more equitable and evidence-based use of digital technologies for personal and public health globally.

The focus on R&D and innovation ecosystems (research institutes and academia, public and private sectors) is driven by the need to empower countries and strengthen their capacity to lead and implement their own digital transformation, with particular focus on the Global South and small states of all incomes.

I-DAIR takes inspiration directly from the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, whose 2019 report called for new platforms for collaboration on digital technologies for making progress on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and for reinforcing inclusion, avoiding misuse, and protecting human rights.

With a network of over 45 partners, I-DAIR’s work is rooted in multilateralism, health and science collaboration, and the belief that value derived from advanced technologies is greatest when they are inclusive.

As an international, transdisciplinary, neutral, and trusted platform, I-DAIR enables and supports the scientific exploration of digital and AI technologies, the development of innovative applications, and the informed use of these applications at both research and medical institutions to catalyse the transformation of personal and public health.

I-DAIR has identified areas of most relevant scientific exploration, called PathFinders, chosen and prioritized based on extensive consultations to better support the digital transformation of health systems; provide end-to-end enabling of digital health; and assist in developing policy responses to ensure the equitable, impactful, and ethical use of new technologies.

I-DAIR’s work is grounded in a growing number of hubs (currently established in Geneva, Johannesburg, Nairobi, New Delhi, Santiago de Chile, Singapore, and Tunis), and I-DAIR-affiliated research centres. Together with additional hubs and affiliate centres in other locations, I-DAIR will create a distributed network of research and innovation centres for collaborative and inclusive research.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

PathFinders provide the framework for I-DAIR’s projects portfolio and an end-to-end approach to the global research ecosystem for digital health, from infrastructure and tools to benchmarking and governance. Current projects include the following:

  • Global Research Map of Digital Health and AI (GRM)
  • Real-Time Epidemiology and Dashboard (RTED)
  • Digital Innovations in Health Systems (DIHS)
  • Trusted Research Infrastructure (TRI)
  • Capacity Development Network (CDN)

–    Governance for AI and Data for Health

The Global Research Map of Digital Health and AI

I-DAIR’s Global Research Map of Digital Health and AI (GRM) is an interactive tool designed to provide a national, regional, and global outlook on digital health and AI research and innovation. The map is based on a new methodology, which combines a technological approach based on AI (natural language processing) to comb through open-source data from 2011 to 2020, along with qualitative surveys across nine regions of the globe, to generate digital health and AI R&D terms and identify trends and trendsetters.

It includes a powerful visualization tool on the patent and development landscape, research publications, and R&D trends in digital health from different angles, including thematic, geographical, and chronological. The level of maturity between different national strategies can also be explored within the initial set of 23 countries. Governments can benchmark themselves with their peers using a set of neutral criteria. They can analyze current strengths while prioritizing investments in future capabilities and then monitor the impact of their strategies on research and innovation annually. To access the maps and the GRM resources, visit https://grm.i-dair.org.

Real Time Epidemiology and Dashboard

The Real Time Epidemiology & Dashboard (RTED) PathFinder facilitates digitally enabled pandemic surveillance and response. Under this PathFinder, I-DAIR is elaborating with its partners a global, science-based, data-driven, neutral, and trusted collective capacity, which leverages citizen science to improve the quality of local and national responses throughout the continuum of pandemic phases.

The proposed global end-to-end pandemic preparedness and response scheme will adopt a modular architecture that will allow responses to be ramped up or down as the pandemic progresses. Countries can adopt what is feasible according to their urgency and grow the scheme as their capabilities increase, and more resources become available.

Under such a scheme, a myriad of innovative data sources and digital technologies can come together locally, regionally, and globally within a neutral digital distributed infrastructure to provide a robust and trusted evidence base to drive responsive public health decision-making.

Digital Innovations in Health Systems

Within the DIHS PathFinder, the aim is to develop digital or digitally enabled innovations that help strengthen health systems and improve access to essential health services as part of the push towards the goal of universal health coverage by 2030. I-DAIR is currently exploring digital innovations in three areas: primary health care and preventive health through the Open Health (OH) scheme; Maternal and Child Health (MCH), with the MOTHER project; and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), with AI-enabled antibiotic prescribing decision support systems.

OH is a project in partnership with the governments of Punjab and Nagaland in India. It aims to go beyond the current telemedicine paradigm towards a more open and community-centered healthcare approach, where a distributed digital infrastructure, combined with locally available clinical and medical knowledge, provides a continuum of care from promotion, prevention, and early diagnosis to treatment.

Trusted Research Infrastructure

In essence, the TRI is a distributed hardware infrastructure for the (con)federated use of data and AI that can scale independently of the current infrastructure areas dominated by the tech giants by focusing on small states and low and middle-income countries (LMICs) as well as innovators and researchers (rather than businesses and individual customers).

The TRI will support the unique characteristics and needs of health data and clinical trials data that are not well-supported today by the major cloud hosting companies. Simultaneously, it will put theories to the test by creating an environment for hands-on practice as well as prototyping and demo opportunities. Moreover, the TRI will provide reliable capacity from off-the-shelf to entirely do-it-yourself AI and machine learning tools with full data sovereignty, thereby speeding up the development of AI capacity within I-DAIR’s partner institutions.

Governance and AI

With a recently obtained grant from the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), I-DAIR will collaborate through its research hubs and partners in LMICs to develop a better understanding of how to implement responsible, gender-responsive AI across a wide variety of contexts in two specific domains: (1) epidemic/pandemic preparedness and response; and (2) sexual, reproductive, and maternal health.

The project will integrate principles into practice by co-creating and validating with IDRC and its research hubs and partners a governance mechanism, including processes and tools to apply existing international principles, mechanisms, and norms in LMIC contexts. It will include stakeholder engagement mechanisms and support the exchange of governance insights and assets.

The governance mechanism will be made available to the global community of AI researchers and implementers. Moreover, by increasing the number, diversity, and contextual specificity of trusted governance tools, international regulatory discussions will be more nuanced and enriched by perspectives from LMICs.

Capacity development network

I-DAIR aims to establish a global capacity development network (CDN) addressed at bridging the communities of researchers and developers and at answering the needs of policymakers and decision-makers responsible for digital health and AI for health programmes and projects. The network will leverage the faculties, expertise, courses, and other educational offerings of I-DAIR’s hubs and critical partners, facilitating knowledge exchange and supporting young researchers and science, technology, and innovation (STI) talents from emerging geographies of innovation.

In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), I-DAIR hubs, and partners in a global working group, I-DAIR has started to co-create a competency framework for digital health and AI for health as well as work on the delivery of one or two trial courses to inform further development of the network’s curriculum and competency framework.

Social media channels

LinkedIn @i-dair-the-international-digital-health-ai- research-collaborative/

Twitter @IDAIR_Geneva

YouTube @I-DAIR