IDB and The GovLab Partner to Bring Innovation to the Fight Against COVID-19

To address the pressing need for more effective strategies for managing the current COVID-19 and other future pandemics, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and The GovLab at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, partnered to conduct an innovative rapid policy advising initiative, “Smarter Crowdsourcing in the Age of Coronavirus”. 

From July to November 2020, the joint team worked with six partner governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to identify, define, contextualize, and prioritize work areas for the COVID-19 response: testing strategies, contact tracing, behavioral and social innovations, protecting vulnerable populations, epidemiologic monitoring and surveillance, and mental health. Then, by capitalizing on the agility of online gathering, experts from across the world convened into a virtual “one room”, where they combined their knowledge to provide solutions to address these challenges.   

“This project sought to give governments and public sector leaders innovative and cutting-edge solutions and information that can boost their current and future responses to pandemics,” explains Diana Pinto Masis, Health Lead Specialist at the IDB. The results of this project are a comprehensive set of knowledge tools, all publicly available on the initiative website in three languages. In addition to the summary report and the executive memos, visitors to the site can explore the searchable catalogue of recommendations and review all the session materials from the six deliberations, including a catalogue of challenges, problem briefs, regional reports documenting contextualized challenges, conference takeaways and implementation memos. 

According to Ferdinando Regalia, Chief of the Social Protection and Health Division at the IDB, “This initiative demonstrates that embracing collective wisdom and humbly seeking counsel and advice is a liberating, democratizing, cost effective, and ultimately uplifting story: to solve our world's most pressing problems, leaders need simply ask and, as we saw with this project, countless people will selflessly give of their time, knowhow, insight and experience.” 

“Government leaders and public sector entrepreneurs need to invest in and strengthen the infrastructure and systems that will prepare our communities for the ‘known unknowns' -- the pandemics that we haven’t yet faced,” says NYU Professor Beth Noveck, Director at The GovLab. “We know from experience that sustained investments in data systems, public health infrastructure, and government capacity are the strongest line of defense against future disruptions and public health threats. Yet despite this preparedness imperative and countless dollars and hours of investment in activities meant to strengthen public health infrastructure, our world was collectively and unfortunately not ready for the coronavirus pandemic,” says NYU Professor Victoria Alsina, Project Lead at The GovLab.   

As this project closes, the tragedy of lives lost and livelihoods destroyed demands of us that we work differently. The IDB and The GovLab invite the global and local communities to take advantage of the collective intelligence on pandemic preparedness and response gathered in the

Smarter Crowdsourcing in the Age of Coronavirus website by visiting:

About the IDB  

The Inter-American Development Bank is one of the main sources of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to loans, grants, and credit guarantees, the IDB conducts cutting-edge research projects to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to the most pressing problems in its region. Created in 1959 to help accelerate progress in its developing member countries, the IDB works every day to improve lives. 

About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering 

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute. A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences as part of a global university, with close connections to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. NYU Tandon is rooted in a vibrant tradition of entrepreneurship, intellectual curiosity, and innovative solutions to humanity’s most pressing global challenges. Research at Tandon focuses on vital intersections between communications/IT, cybersecurity, and data science/AI/robotics systems and tools and critical areas of society that they influence, including emerging media, health, sustainability, and urban living. We believe diversity is integral to excellence, and are creating a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable environment for all of our students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit

About The Governance Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering 

The Governance Lab's mission is to improve people's lives by changing the way we govern. Our goal at The GovLab is to strengthen the ability of institutions — including but not limited to governments — and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science, can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government. For more information, visit

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More Information

Diana Pinto 
Health Lead Specialist at the IDB  


Victoria Alsina 
NYU Professor and Project Lead  at The GovLab 

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