Using AI to Enable Data-Driven Response Actions During Pandemics

Apr 2, 2020
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AI Coronavirus Policies

Palo Alto-based startup Omdena wants to use AI to help governments make data-driven decisions when dealing with pandemics like the coronavirus


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By Laura Clark Murray 


Palo Alto, California, March 30, 2020 –  When travel is restricted, schools closed, businesses shut down, and communities put into quarantine, individuals in those ecosystems lose their sources of income. Omdena, a Palo Alto-based startup that unites AI and domain experts from around the globe, is launching an AI challenge to investigate the impact of such policy decisions on people’s financial stability.


In an effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic more than 100 countries have imposed travel restrictions and 2.5 billion people, or 30 percent of the world’s population, have been directed by governments to stay at home. The resulting loss of wages is expected to be disastrous to those already on the economic margins, including wage workers. Omdena’s AI challenge aims to provide analysis of the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The lockdowns in Europe, the US, and India affect the poorest in those regions and elsewhere. We must think about those hundreds of millions who do not have savings or a pantry full of food. When those people cannot go to work every day to earn a living, the impact is devastating,said Rudradeb Mitra, Founder of Omdena. “We want that impact to be understood and considered by policymakers.”

Omdena, which is a partner of the United Nations’ AI for Global Good Summit 2020, comes with a track record of successfully completed AI projects. Those efforts include using machine learning to identify the safest routes in Istanbul for earthquake victims to reunite with their loved ones. It has also delivered AI solutions which helped detect the outbreak of fires in the Brazilian rainforest with 95 percent accuracy.

“Our goal is to minimize the human suffering that results from pandemic policies. We created this AI challenge to support policymakers with data-driven analyses that will help them make even more informed decisions in the future,” added Mira.

Omdena runs collaborative AI projects in which global teams of 40 or more data scientists and experts build AI solutions to address significant real-world problems. To date, more than 900 people from over 75 countries have participated in Omdena’s challenges.

Omdena’s Coronavirus Policy AI Challenge is supported by the UN AI for Good Global Summit, AI for Peace, PWG, Fruitpunch AI, LabelBox, and Spell. Joining the challenge are economic, health and humanitarian policy experts from around the world, who bring experience with organizations including the World Health Organization, The World Bank, European Commission, and UNICEF USA.

We are excited to join efforts with Omdena to protect those with the least capacity to manage the burdens of this crisis — the impoverished and economically marginalized,” said Branka Panic, Founder of the think tank AI for Peace.We aspire to help governments and international organizations deal with this and future pandemics by taking an AI-enabled and evidence-based approach to policymaking.”

Omdena is a partner of several United Nations organizations, including the UN Refugee Agency and the UN World Food Programme, as well as an official Innovation Partner of the United Nations AI for Global Good Summit 2020.


For media inquiries contact: Laura Clark Murray, Omdena, [email protected] 

About Omdena: Founded in May 2019, Omdena is an innovation platform for building AI solutions to real-world problems through global collaboration. The company’s partners include the UN World Food Programme and the UN Refugee Agency. Omdena is an Innovation Partner of the United Nations AI for Good Global Summit 2020. Learn more at

Learn more about Omdena’s Coronavirus Policy AI Challenge at

About Rudradeb Mitra: The India-born Rudradeb Mitra is a graduate from the University of Cambridge, UK and an international AI expert. He has built six startups in four countries. His primary interest is to build products with social value. He is a mentor and AI advisor at several institutions including Google Launchpad, ImpactHub, MIT Enterprise, Founders Institute and a senior AI advisor of EFMA Banking Group. Mitra founded Omdena in 2019 to address real-world problems through global collaboration.