Trust as a social capital is fragile, particularly in times of crisis. It requires specific, intentional interventions for it to be nurtured and maintained. Communities and individuals need to be listened to and able to participate in broader discussions to share and understand the challenges and impediments they are facing together. How do we empower these communities and promote these discussions to strengthen relationships, build stronger connections, and form trusted partnerships?
In the concept development, the need for a digital space to support communities was identified, and the concept developed to become an innovative digital platform to:
- Gather information from a defined list of online sources and health authority websites and ensure that all people everywhere have access to credible and trustworthy information;
- Bring together communities and other cross-disciplinary partners to co-create, share knowledge, and build from the foundations of community best practices and lessons learned;
- Place the community and community’s information needs at the center and provide the tools necessary for meaningful and actionable adaptation of the best available scientific evidence;
- Enable an inclusive response to public health events through multi-level collaboration and communication;
- Engage communities encouraging them to make a shift from being passive listeners to being contributors and co-creators of epidemic and pandemic preparedness activities;
“The WHO Hive project grew out of the desire to change how credible health information is discussed, created, and shared in preparation for the next epidemic or pandemic. HTEC has excelled as an agile developer, providing invaluable engineering solutions to difficult problems in an ever-changing environment.”
– The Hive project team at
World Health Organization (WHO)
The main objective was to facilitate meaningful and systematic connection and collaboration within and across communities through the exchange of information and action-oriented epidemic and pandemic preparedness activities to build and enhance relationships that can easily be scaled up and/or reactivated for the response to health emergencies.
HTEC was contracted by the WHO to help develop a digital space for health emergency preparedness and response to help provide reliable information from trusted sources, to be shared by a network of trusted messengers to address the spread of false or misleading information in both the digital and physical space.
The first step the HTEC team made was to conduct in-depth research of health-related trusted sources at the very start of COVID-19 outbreak.
“Our engineering and design teams had the opportunity to work with WHO experts and create a product from the initial ideas to the production-ready solution. Using the engineering expertise, the latest technologies and the best product design practices, it was a pleasure looking at how the platform evolves and welcomes users. My colleagues and I are proud of the collaboration with WHO and the product we built.”
– Živan Miljkov
Engineering and Delivery Lead at HTEC Group
One of the biggest challenges the HTEC team had to overcome was how to aggregate all this information into one unified system. This required a deep understanding of the information ecosphere, how information was distributed, and the key information the team needed to focus on.
On the engineering side, the biggest challenges the team had to solve were related to:
- Data — how to source, contextualize, and distribute the data throughout the channels
The data component of the platform is built from the articles scraped from trusted sources provided by WHO and its communities. This data is then processed using AI and ML and provided to Hive members inside the platform based on their selected categories, locations, and activities on the platform. Users fill out their profiles indicating their interests so that they can be more easily identified within the app itself.
- Integration — how to integrate all the critical elements into one solution
Based on the services HTEC offers, the team developed a system architecture compliant with WHO internal regulations using the latest technologies and Agile framework. The developed platform is highly secure and scalable, and integrates off-the-shelf solutions to help the project team save upfront development costs and provide a familiar, low barrier-to-entry user experience.
On top of the data component, the platform includes four key features:
- Community space — Where people can share ideas, knowledge, and files with other members
- Community forum and chats — Allows users to exchange messages directly, in groups or with the community
- Events — A conferencing package that enables users of the platform to schedule meetings and webinars
- Hive Drive — A repository where users can upload their files, and share collections with users and communities on the platform to enable more effective collaboration
A comprehensive search functionality perfectly bridges all the key elements — articles, users, communities, events, and Hive Drive to connect knowledge, skills, and experience to questions and concerns.
“HTEC’s commitment to work collaboratively to find the most appropriate solutions for challenges in front of them has been outstanding. The team has always been available to provide solutions based on high-level expertise and knowledge. The great communication and the constant positive engagement are well-appreciated skills of the HTEC team.”
– Dr Ljubica Latinović
Hive Team Lead, World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO’s Hive platform can leverage best practices and learnings to have a positive impact on global public health. With this solution, we have created a centralized hub for connections to share knowledge in preparation for the next health emergency, where and become a platform recognized as a place where access to the right information, at the right time, in the right format is available from trusted sources to help manage the Infodemic during a health emergency.
WHO’s future ambition is to focus their efforts on helping this platform evolve, expand to new regions, and build upon a community of trusted people that can discuss emerging issues, promote discussion, and become generators of trusted content.
“HTEC has proven time and time again that they have the technical expertise to deliver innovative solutions to tight deadlines. They have been a very agile contractor that has worked under often changing and difficult conditions. In addition to their technical proficiency, the HTEC team has consistently demonstrated their passion and willingness to go the extra mile. Their dedication to our project and dedication to solve problems has been evident in every deliverable, and it is this level of commitment that sets them apart as a developer.”
– Brian Yau
Technical Officer, World Health Organization (WHO)
Throughout the entire project, we have been focused on understanding the user lifestyle cycle. So, with any challenge, there is an awareness. WHO’s future ambition is to focus their efforts on helping this platform evolve, expand to new regions, and build upon a community of trusted people that can discuss emerging issues, promote discussion, and become generators of trusted content.
“Working with the Epidemic Preparedness and Prevention team in seeing what impact this could have in the future for the next major pandemic; certainly, highlights the importance of this initiative. The foundation of a trusted set of health experts to rapidly engage with its community and the reach that these groups will have to distribute reliable lifesaving information is indispensable. Our challenge to tackle infodemics is just one by-product of the evolution of the HIVE into its own ecosystem of global experts, but on a localized geographical level to every single person in the world. ”
– Mark Scrivener
Managing Director at Momentum Design Lab