One-line solution summary:
Pre-spillover participatory community disease detection surveillance platform
Pitch your solution.
What if you could stop the next pandemic before it starts?
SARS, MERS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola, HIV, COVID-19 - all of these viruses are zoonotic. They “spillover” from animals to humans. PODD detects potentially lethal viruses before they spread to humans - avoiding the human pandemic altogether. We target pre-spillover events, rather than treating sick people after the virus has already made the leap to humans. In our opinion, it’s already too late. From a single spillover event (COVID-19), the Thai economy has contracted over 5%, a $60 billion tourism industry was brought to its knees, and one of the most unequal societies in Southeast Asia is only getting worse. The poor and vulnerable, not to mention the 20 million informal workers without safety nets, are suffering.
PODD has already successfully detected over 75 pre-spillover events in Thailand. Imagine if each one of those was a novel coronavirus?
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
SARS, MERS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, HIV, COVID-19 - all of these viruses are zoonotic. They “spillover” from animals to humans. From a single spillover event (COVID-19), the Thai economy has contracted over 5%, a $60 billion tourism industry was brought to its knees, and one of the most unequal societies in Southeast Asia is only getting worse. The poor and vulnerable, not to mention the 20 million informal workers without safety nets, are suffering.
Part of the problem is what we eat, and how we raise animals for eating. Livestock owners are not veterinarians, but they know when animals are sick. They also know that one sick pig can easily equal twenty sick animals if they don’t keep the animal from the others. However, they might not know that twenty sick animals can turn into 5 million people infected in a deadly pandemic. Since the livestock owner most likely won’t share that they have a sick pig with local epidemiologists or community officials, the opportunity to stop a pandemic before it happens has been squandered.
What is your solution?
PODD stands for Participatory One Health Disease Detection and is pronounced "paw dee dee" which means “look closely and you will see” in Thai. It is a pre-spillover participatory community disease detection surveillance platform. We connect local community livestock owners with local health officials via accessible technology.
We give farmers, livestock owners, and local community members a mobile application compatible with any smartphone or tablet which they use to take pictures of sick animals. This application sends these photos, along with observation notes, to local veterinarians and health officials. If enough animals are sick within a certain radius, or the local officials decide to investigate an animal, a response team is dispatched to handle the case appropriately.
We currently have over 600 local government officials handling PODD cases and over 10,000 local volunteers participating in personal disease surveillance. Since national governments tend to be slow and bureaucratic, PODD is community-owned, and magnitudes faster than a national response strategy.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
A study of PODD found that 73% of confirmed poultry outbreaks were contained within the community of origin, and the remaining 27% contained within neighboring communities before further spread. In one instance, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in domestic livestock was rapidly contained and estimated to have saved the local economy approximately $4 million dollars.
Farmers and livestock owners are the immediate PODD beneficiaries, as they receive expert veterinarian care for their animals. They also protect the rest of their livestock as the animals are typically quarantined for further examination. Local health officials - in particular epidemiological experts - whose responsibility it is to monitor possible outbreaks, receive considerably more relevant data to better do their jobs. They are able to monitor the status of sick animals in real-time from their offices as farmers take pictures and upload them to the PODD system. Lastly, the greater local communities are the longer-term beneficiaries as they are protected from potentially deadly outbreaks.
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge.
Our focus on prevention, detection, and rapid response align directly to the Health Security & Pandemics Challenge.
As the COVID-19 global health crisis has demonstrated, health care systems need to think proactively about how to prevent and manage pandemics. PODD is a low-cost solution that can reach a wide audience, give access to healthcare resources, and ultimately provide a path to avoiding future outbreaks.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Bangkok, Thailand
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
What differentiates PODD from every COVID-19 solution, is that we are more worried about "COVID-21". Our aim is to stop pandemics before they happen, not treat the symptoms. We have created a community-led, real-time pre-spillover disease monitoring system. The onus is on the community leaders to maintain the health of their own livelihoods. These livestock owners have an incentive to provide health officials with direct real-time disease data. The bottom-up approach, combined with the real-timeness of information getting transmitted to those most capable to respond, leads to what we call “pre-spillover” disease detection. Provincial health experts are able to dispatch rapid response because of their digital access to the farms of local community members. No longer do we have to wait until humans are sick before we respond.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
The core of PODD is simple data collection and rapid response.
PODD volunteers contribute data via Mobile Application, Web Application, or LINE Chatbot. These volunteers are required to take photos of their sick animals, answer a few questions, and submit the report. A recent user survey revealed that the PODD system was simple enough that 89% of volunteers could use it agilely after basic training, even though half had never owned a mobile phone. However, supporting this many users and devices is a challenge, so we also collect data via a LINE messaging Chatbot. LINE is by far the most popular social messaging platform in Thailand, more popular than Whatsapp or Facebook. We integrate disease data collection into Thais' daily routines, such as communicating with their social network, and automate the collection process via a Chatbot engine.
All of the data is collected into decentralized repositories owned and managed by provincial health officials. These health officials (veterinarians, epidemiologists, etc) are able to run reports and analyze the real-time data coming in from the farms. When enough cases of sick animals with similar characteristics are reported within a certain radius, an automated alert is sent to the provincial health officials who manage those areas. The local officials will then communicate directly with the livestock owner and dispatch a local response team if necessary. Local responders collect lab samples and work with community members on preventative or outbreak control measures.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
In Chiang Mai, within the first few months of using PODD, volunteers reported more animal diseases than over the entire previous year. A study of PODD found that 73% of confirmed poultry outbreaks were contained within the community of origin, and the remaining 27% contained within neighboring communities before further spread. In one instance, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in domestic livestock was rapidly contained and estimated to have saved the local economy approximately $4 million dollars.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
When you empower local communities with the technology to solve problems themselves, they care more about those issues.
Our theory of change is that giving local communities tools to monitor the health their livestock is the best way to stop pandemics before they spillover into humans.
PODD provides community volunteers with technology to monitor the health of their livestock, and the community volunteers provide local health officials with real-time epidemiological data. The immediate output of this symbiotic relationship is the livestock owner receiving medical care for their animal, and the health official receiving just-in-time data directly from the source of a potential outbreak. The longer-term outcome of the PODD system is fewer full-blown outbreaks because local health authorities are able to respond rapidly before it spreads to nearby areas. Fewer animal pandemics lowers the likelihood of human pandemics, as the the pandemic spread is stopped at the animal level.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
In 5 years, we have trained 19,400 people across 31 provinces covering a population of nearly 3 million people, and PODD is continuing to scale nationwide. There are approximately 20 million more livestock owners in Thailand, who along with several major agribusiness vendors, feed 71 million Thais. PODD will expand nationally to cover them all in the next 5 years.
We are currently in early discussions with the government of Cambodia to replicate PODD in their country. We hope to have a Cambodian implementation of PODD in the next 5 years as well.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
In the next year, we plan to have PODD coverage for every province in Thailand (77 in total; currently in 31) and train another 10,000 "disease detective" volunteers.
In the next 5 years, we plan to have PODD implementations in several other countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
What type of organization is your solution team?Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Opendream is a 12-year-old social enterprise in Bangkok, Thailand. We have delivered over 30 successful solutions for some of the most well-known partners in Asia such as UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, Skoll Foundation, Google Foundation, Amnesty International, and Thailand’s Ministry of Health.
As a social enterprise, we invest our profits back into our social impact projects. We are a 20 person team of programmers, designers, and game developers who aim to make sustainable social impact through technology. The company is 100% Thai-owned, has only 1 non-Thai employee, and half of our employees are women.
We handle 100% of the technology services ourselves, with open-source software to reduce costs, without any outsourcing or 3rd party technology partners. Our specialities include:
Mobile App Development
Video Game Development
Geospatial Data Analysis
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
We are currently partnering with:
- Faculty of Veterinarian Science at Chiang Mai University for expertise in designing animal data collection systems
- Skoll Global Threats Fund (now EndingPandemics) for pilot funding and international epidemiological expertise and resources
- One Health Network Chiang Mai for local epidemiological expertise and access to local network of officials and volunteers
- Over 600 provincial livestock officers, public health officers, health professionals, economists, political scientists, and provincial government officials
What is your business model?
Our long-term strategy for Opendream has always been to generate enough sustainable revenue from our projects, so that we can keep delivering impact for Thai people.
For PODD, we follow a traditional SaaS model in that we provide major agribusiness companies with access to our surveillance network for their livestock farms. They pay us a subscription for access to early detection of outbreaks near their farms, and for the ability to monitor their own livestock with PODD. We also charge for business-specific customizations for the PODD reporting and dashboards.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Organizations (B2B)
Why are you applying to Solve?
The reason we are applying to SOLVE is for access to the community of peers, funders, experts, professors and partners who can help us advance PODD by providing mentorship and exposure to the greater MIT network. MIT’s network opens doors to conversations inaccessible to the average social enterprise. We need mentorship from MIT’s community of public health experts, epidemiologists, and technologists on how to scale our technology nationally and beyond Thailand.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?