How to Help Science and Tech Experts With the Coronavirus Response

All you need is a phone, smartwatch, or computer

Deborah Stine
Forge
Published in
5 min readMar 30, 2020

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Photo: Mayur Kakade/Moment/Getty Images

TThere’s a certain paralysis many of us are feeling right now: We want to be helpful during this pandemic, but aren’t sure how to do so safely from our homes.

Fortunately, being stuck inside doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. Forge recently shared some ways to support your community while social distancing — you can volunteer to call isolated seniors, or tutor students who are home during school closures, or sew masks for those who need them.

And you might want to look beyond your immediate community, too, to the science and tech experts working on vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. Across the country and around the world, researchers are calling on the public to provide useful data. Here’s what you can do to help.

Lend your (literal) voice

Did you know that artificial intelligence (A.I.) may be able to detect whether or not you have Covid-19 just from the sound of your voice? That’s the proposition of the startup Voca.ai, which plans to use voice forensic technology that looks at voice patterns, tones, and other sounds to determine if someone has a unique illness. The company has teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to collect voice data from both healthy people and people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

To participate, all you need to do is provide daily voice recordings and answer a few questions on your home computer. The ultimate crowd-produced results will be used by researchers to provide remote testing for Covid-19 at no cost to anyone in the world.

Volunteer your computer’s time

Supercomputers, capable of testing out many different ideas and analyzing large amounts of data quickly, can help us find new ways to respond to diseases. The problem is that the use of these computers is very expensive, and access to them is limited.

Several years ago, the leaders behind the Folding@Home project came up with a solution: Ask the public to volunteer their personal computers to crowdsource scientific research analysis. The research group focuses on a technique called…

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Deborah Stine
Forge
Writer for

Dr. Deborah D. Stine is Founder of the Science and Technology Policy Academy, an Independent study director and consultant, and co-editor of Forefront on Medium