New Project Launch: Supporting Communities of Practice Working on Climate-Sensitive Infectious Disease

Code for Science & Society is launching a new project to support open source communities of practice developing modeling tools for Climate Sensitive Infectious Diseases (CSID). This work, supported by our partners at Wellcome Trust, will begin with a comprehensive landscaping phase. Since 2019, CS&S has worked with a global network of partners to develop community-led initiatives that fund, sustain, and grow communities of practice across the open ecosystem. We are excited to deepen our understanding of open source software communities, expanding on what we have learned through supporting Event Fund grantees and Digital Infrastructure Incubator participants.

As part of this work, we look to engage open source and research software groups to co-design and enable the foundations for a sustainable and robust CSID community of practice. This work is being conducted in close collaboration with our fiscally sponsored projects, Research Software Alliance (ReSA) and U.S. Research Software Sustainability Institute (URSSI), as well as the Ersilia Open Source Initiative and H3D Foundation.

Climate-informed modeling tools and systems can bolster public health planning, but there are significant barriers to advancing the cross-disciplinary work in climate-sensitive infectious diseases. Some of these barriers include gaps in technological expertise, lack of alignment between model outputs and decision-making needs, and financial constraints (IAI 2022). All of these challenges highlight the need for a supportive environment to foster collaboration and communication between stakeholders within CSID modeling. Further there is need to pay keen attention to the under-resourced socio-technical infrastructure that places communities in historically marginalized parts of the world at a notable disadvantage and reproduces the concentration of power outside of impacted regions in low- and middle-income countries.

CS&S has been embedded in the open source software, open data, and scientific research communities since our founding in 2016. In 2023, programmatic initiatives across our grant-funded work center mechanisms of community engagement, stewardship, ownership, and co-design in different parts of the open ecosystem. As such, this collaboration with Wellcome Trust, ReSA, URSSI, Ersilia and other global partners is part of ongoing and interconnected work to better understand and support community-focused initiatives in our sector. We approach the mapping and engagement with the CSID community with a strong emphasis on global network building and local roots. To start, this means ensuring strong representation from regions of the world where the burden of climate-sensitive infectious disease is highest. A core part of the work is to understand the needs and exigencies of an emergent, global CSID community that includes software engineers, researchers and impacted communities, especially those located in lower- and middle-income countries.

The capacity of technical innovation and research to advance public health and mitigate the effects of climate catastrophe is intimately wound up with equity and transparency in the development and deployment of those technologies. Many disparate researchers working on related topics and issues would benefit from being in conversation, but, for a variety of factors, they are often not connected. We are keen to grow a community that facilitates transnational, transdisciplinary, and cross-sectoral connections and knowledge exchange to take place. We believe such an array of researchers, policymakers, software engineers, and funders will advance discussions on equitable, community-led governance models of sharing data, software, and allocating resources.

We seek global perspectives outside our existing networks and we would love to hear from you - who should we be talking to? If you would like to contribute to this project and/or know of an individual or organization working at the intersection of Climate Change and Infectious Diseases, please share via this form.

Featured Image Photo by Jatniel Tunon on Unsplash