GREENWICH, Conn., Sept. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Spencer Trask & Co., a privately held advanced technology development firm, today announced it has partnered with Rotary International and the World Health Organization (WHO) to crowdsource a global call-to-action for seeking innovative solutions to curtail the spread of online misinformation that is purposely thwarting efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan. The three organizations have engaged crowdsourcing pioneer InnoCentive to oversee this challenge that will award $10,000 each to (up to) three winning solutions (restrictions apply).
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), of which the WHO and Rotary are founding members, faces mounting challenges in Pakistan driven by technological advancement, specifically the increasing number of people seeking and sharing news via social media. Online rumors and blatant misinformation about polio vaccination has become a systemic problem—especially considering an estimated 200% increase in Internet usage since 2012 (according to Pakistan Telecom Authority), bringing a third of the country’s population into the digital age.
“There is a powerful collective intelligence to be harnessed through this platform. We believe it can bring fresh ideas to the teams working in the region, and help them complete their mission of eradicating polio,” said Kevin Kimberlin, Chairman of Spencer Trask & Co. and sponsor of the new crowdsourcing challenge.
“Rotary, the World Health Organization and our partners have made incredible progress in the fight to end polio, but right now we’re facing a perplexing challenge,” said Carol Pandak, Director of Rotary International’s PolioPlus program. “We look forward to working with Spencer Trask & Co. to crowdsource creative, innovative solutions to creating confidence in vaccines by combatting online rumors in Pakistan, one of the last two countries on earth that continue to report cases of the wild poliovirus.”
In 1952, polio reached epidemic proportions, paralyzing or killing more people than any other communicable disease in the United States. Polio is a dangerous, highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease that has no known cause but is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine. In 2017, only 8 cases of wild poliovirus were detected in Pakistan. However, since 2018, case counts have increased, with a total of 62 new cases reported in Pakistan this year.
To join in this collective effort please access the challenge at https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9934241.
Spencer Trask & Co., a privately held advanced technology development firm, helps entrepreneurs build high impact ventures that change the world. The firm was instrumental in launching leading companies in artificial intelligence, genomics, healthcare, mobile technology, and Internet infrastructure
Rotary International brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connect 1.2 million members from more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their service improves lives both locally and internationally, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Rotary is a founding partner of the GPEI, and has worked to support polio eradication efforts for more than 30 years.