“More reliable, local data-driven guidance is critical to allow the safe and successful reopening of businesses, schools, religious institutions and other parts of our communities.”

[Chapel Hill, NC, July 29, 2020] As part of the 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act, the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory has awarded the Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) a grant to research, validate, and build a simulation platform and recommendation engine to support North Carolina business and community leaders as they navigate difficult decisions around reopening.

The project is a collaboration between DHIT, the Institute for Convergent Sciences and Innovate Carolina at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the NC Chamber Foundation, among others. According to Michael Levy, DHIT President: “We are in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic with no clear strategy to successfully reopen our economy without risking the destruction of the health of our communities. We lack confidence in existing strategies and clarity on which communities and businesses should reopen, when they should reopen and how they should reopen. More reliable, local data-driven guidance is critical to allow the safe and successful reopening of businesses, schools, religious institutions and other parts of our communities.”

The platform will leverage machine learning and advanced analytics to ingest huge amounts of national and regional data, including but not limited to: health and epidemiological data, labor and economic data, occupational data, consumer behavior and attitudinal data, and environmental data. The resulting dashboard will provide business owners and community stakeholders with real-time intelligence and predictive modelling on population health risk, consumer sentiment and community resiliency. Users will be able to view the risk to their business/county, as well as simulate the impact of implementing evidence-based recommendations, enabling them to make informed decisions.

According to Jeffrey Warren, Executive Director of the NC Policy Collaboratory, “We are excited to be able to work with DHIT to develop this much-needed utility to enable business owners and county administrators to make evidence-based decisions to safeguard the health of their employees and communities. The platform will initially be piloted in seven NC counties, with the intent to scale to additional counties across North Carolina, and if successful, other states.”

The seven NC counties chosen for the initial pilot are: Ashe, Buncombe, Gates, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Robeson, and Wake. These counties were selected based on their diversity with respect to a multitude of factors: overall health outcomes, geography, rurality, economic distress, prosperity zones, population density, racial diversity, age, education level, and number of COVID-19 cases.

If you are a community organization or business located in the counties listed above and are interested in being a beta tester for this initiative, please contact info@dhitglobal.org.

For further information, visit communityconfidence.org.

ABOUT DHIT

The Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit education and research institute supporting communities through the process of digital health transformation. We collaborate with leading academic institutions, associations, and industry to cultivate talent and ecosystems with our immersive learning platform, harnessing real-world experiences that drive the adoption of next generation skills, emerging technologies, and mindsets needed to foster the digital health leaders and innovators of the future, today. For more information, visit dhitglobal.org.

ABOUT THE NC POLICY COLLABORATORY

The Collaboratory was established in the summer of 2016 by the North Carolina General Assembly for the purposes of facilitating the dissemination of the policy and research expertise of the University of North Carolina System and other institutions of higher learning across the State for practical use by state and local government. The Collaboratory develops and disseminates relevant best practices to interested parties, leads and participates in projects across the State related to natural resource management, and makes recommendations to the General Assembly.