The Global South AI4COVID (Artificial Intelligence For COVID)  Programme, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, supports multidisciplinary, evidence-based AI and data science research for COVID-19 response and recovery in low- and middle-income countries. 

UN Global Pulse plays a crucial role in the program by providing technical and communication support. We serve as a resource hub for organizations given grants under this program, ensuring efficient transfers of knowledge and expertise. We help identify policy linkage opportunities, and encourage people to take in the Global South.

The nine research grantees (including consortia and individual organizations) work across 18 Global South countries. They use AI and data innovation for early COVID-19 detection, containment, mitigation, and forecasting. The research aims to inform policies supporting AI and data science responses to epidemics, strengthen health systems, and develop responsible, evidence-based, gender-responsive, and culturally appropriate solutions based on local needs.

Our impact

The project underlined the significance of Global Pulse’s technical and communication assistance in fostering international collaboration and enhancing project impact. The findings across 18 countries in the Global South informed COVID-19 response and recovery strategies, potentially affecting millions of individuals in low- and middle-income regions. Support from UN Global Pulse Jakarta has enhanced the global reach of the programme and mobilised people to take action in the 18 countries.

The programme led to development of an innovative tool that visualises research data and provides grantees with a new perspective on their communication approach. It transformed the way partners conduct their research by introducing an automation process that streamlined data extraction, reduced staff costs, and provided an objective, large-scale analysis. Thanks to this tool, with its novel approach to showcasing research results, researchers on future projects will be able to disseminate their findings around the world effectively.

Our lessons

  • It’s important for UN Global Pulse to supply more than funding; our role as a resource hub that facilitates knowledge transfer and global communication is an important contribution. 
  • On a technical level, the programme underscored the potential for automation in streamlining data extraction and large-scale analysis. This should be explored in other areas where automation could enhance efficiency and reduce costs.
  • Overall, the programme demonstrated the power of AI and data science to address global challenges like COVID-19, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.