Rockville, Maryland-based geospatial analytics company HSR.health landed $70,000 to develop a pilot version of its Pandemic Early Warning and Response platform, the company reported Wednesday. The award is non-dilutive Phase 1 funding, and could grow to anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million as the pilot progresses.
In normal times, HSR offers a software-as-a-service model, where clients purchase a subscription to access datasets and risks relevant to them. Its GeoHealth platform, CEO Ajay Gupta said, offers spatial data infrastructure, which runs on open-source geospatial software with a data science platform featuring AI and machine learning, plus epidemiological and statistical models.
From its work through the pandemic, Gupta said that HSR observed signals of early human-to-human disease transmission and found a way to identify them with data science. The new pilot project digitalizes disease surveillance, merging it with datasets to help provide early warnings at the first signs of spread. In addition, the platform will be a curated repository of health, social and environmental data that can be used to offer perspective globally, nationally or regionally, Gupta said. The machine learning, deep learning, AI, epidemiological and statistical aspects can also be used in collaborative response measures.
It’s not the first rodeo for the company, either. Gupta added that HSR helped with the opioid epidemic, maternal and child health, and has assisted hospitals aiming to reduce hospital-acquired infections and readmissions.
“These capabilities and our work over the past years allows us to build a global, digital disease surveillance and intervention system within our platform that will further advance these capabilities and protect us against future endemic and emerging disease outbreaks,” Gupta told Technical.ly.
The funding comes from the Open Geospatial Consortium‘s Disasters Pilot 2021, which released a call for participation for companies to submit their pilot proposals to receive funding in April. The US Geological Survey’s Federal Geographic Data Committee also provided funding alongside other strategic partners. Presently, Gupta chairs the OGC’s Health Domain Working Group.
“For every OGC innovation activity, we always pick the best global experts amongst the OGC membership to collaborate on collectively solving the challenges scoped by our strategic sponsors,” said Nadine Alameh, CEO of the OGC, in a statement. “It’s no surprise that HSR.health was selected for the disaster pilot based on their proven capabilities in disease surveillance and warning…capabilities that have come to the forefront for all of us following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Considering how diseases can make the jump to other countries via international travelers and shipping, Gupta said the lack of a single, standardized geospatial health data source leaves populations vulnerable, and makes it more difficult to anticipate health risks and emergencies. He hopes the new pilot project can help bridge some of these gaps.
“We believe a deeper understanding of social factors impacting health outcomes locally, nationally, and globally will allow us to root out the sources of health inequity — ultimately resulting in improved, more affordable healthcare for all,” Gupta said.-30-