The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has now surpassed 400,000 across 190 countries: it is a truly global crisis, possibly the biggest of our generation. The economic and social impacts of the virus are substantial, as is the human cost with nearly 15,000 deaths to date. The impacts of the pandemic will stretch far beyond health into the economy, politics, culture, aid delivery, project monitoring and even environmental governance.
Rapid action is necessary to stop this pandemic and the harms that result from the suspension of essential activities such as the delivery of development aid and environmental monitoring. Investors, organizations and community groups are struggling to maintain the on-the-ground monitoring systems that were aimed at building accountability in the natural resources and other sectors. The consequences of this can be very real. Our partners in several countries have already documented a surge in illegal forestry and extractive deals as the world turns its attention to the new virus, and this will continue for the months to come.
It is important that now, more than ever, we ensure that those in civil society who are affected by these issues are able to collect and share information to ensure that serious incidents do not go unreported as NGOs and private sector organizations pull back their staff. TIMBY is working with our partners to ensure that their monitoring work can continue despite the limitations on travel for their staff, and we are working with new organizations to implement remote monitoring solutions to ensure that their ability to collect information in the field is not compromised.
During these challenging times, we are extending the TIMBY system free-of-charge for three months to all non-governmental organizations and community groups working actively on the response to COVID-19, particularly in Africa, Asia and South America where our presence is strongest and where healthcare systems may be most impacted by the burden of this virus.
Mapping and monitoring the disease burden and the responses to it, triaging cases, as well as decentralized contact tracing will be crucial to planning any response and ensuring the efficient delivery of care. We will do our best to help local response teams and are happy to collaborate on any of these issues, or others including monitoring of clinical trials. We are collaborating with Element AI researchers to analyze and predict trends, and to help determine appropriate policy responses.
In addition, TIMBY is enabling users to easily visualize COVID-19 cases and deaths compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering as a layer within any new site, and will assist in configuring new sites to import more granular epidemiologic or spatial data layers that might be available on a regional or national scale.
If you are working on these issues and would like to use TIMBY as part of your work, please reach out to us here and we’ll set you up with a system, manuals and a free online training session.
Thanks for all the good work you do out there, and stay safe.
The TIMBY Team.