I-DAIR’s hubs: a global network of regional expertise promoting transdisciplinary, diverse and shared digital solutions for health.

The High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, convened by the UN Secretary-General, underlined several critical gaps within the current condition of global digital cooperation, including low prominence in political agendas, lack of inclusivity, overlaps amongst the existing mechanisms, as well as lack of reliability in data, while reiterating the need for global mechanisms to foster sustainable digital cooperation in our digitally interdependent world.

In its report, the Panel provided several recommendations on how the international community could work together to optimise the use of digital technologies and promote genuine collaboration: systems should become more holistic, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder, agile and able to convert rhetoric into practice.

Following these conclusions, I-DAIR sprung up with the mandate to build a distributed, inclusive and neutral architecture for authentic cooperation in research in the digital health and AI for health domains, with the goal to federate stakeholders, maximise impacts, minimise risks of misuse and missed-use of data and promote digital health as global public good for the advancement of the SDGs and Universal Health Coverage.

While I-DAIR’s PathFinders (PFs) provide the framework to engage across academia, industry, civil society, international organizations, governments and philanthropies on a selected and actual range of collaborative projects, I-DAIR’s Hubs & Spokes architecture acts as a key facilitator for such engagements.

The regional hubs are the backbone of I-DAIR’s distributed architecture. They provide a so far non-existing platform for regional leadership on digital health and AI research and can ensure the development of a growing number of digital and AI-based solutions for health issues. The collaboration of the hubs ensure that these proposals are built upon global expertise to be the most sustainable, efficient, relevant, impactful and inclusive.

So far, seven hubs have been put in place: in Geneva, Singapore, New Delhi, Santiago, Tunis, Nairobi and, very recently, in Johannesburg. By the end 2022, I-DAIR plans to federate a network of nine hubs aimed at countering the hoarding of data and knowledge in the digital and AI world.

The National Center for Health Information Systems (CENS), in Santiago, Chili.
Hub led by Dr. May Chomalí, Executive Director, and Professor Steffen Härtel.
The CENS is a non-profit corporation, formed by the Universities of Chile, Catholic, Concepción, Valparaíso and Talca, with the support of CORFO, to develop strategies and activities to achieve a more connected health system, innovate through health information technologies, close the gaps in knowledge and application of health information systems, and create criteria to ensure the quality of these systems.

The Esprit School of Engineering in Tunis, Tunisia.
Hub led by Professor Khaled Ghedira, Scientific Director.
ESPRIT is the largest private higher education institution of Tunisia with over 4,500 enrolled students. It was founded in 2003 and has built up its reputation for excellence in Tunisia and several sub-Saharan African countries through its closeness to the business community, its partnerships with foreign universities, and its active pedagogy and problem-based learning method. ESPRIT is graduating operational engineers in information technology, civil engineering, electromechanical engineering, with dual degrees from French Universities Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, Sup de Co Montpellier, Institut SupGalilée Paris XIII, Ecole Centrale de Lille, Maine University, etc.

The University of Geneva, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Hub led by Professor Dimitri Konstantas, Director of the Information Science Institute.
The University of Geneva (UNIGE) is dedicated to teaching, research and dialogue with society. With more than 17’000 students of some 150 different nationalities, it is Switzerland’s second largest university. Its domains of excellence in research include life sciences (molecular biology, bio-informatics), physics of elementary particles, and astrophysics.

The African Population and Health Research Centre, in Nairobi, Kenya.
Hub led by Dr. Gershim Asiki, Research Scientist.
The African Population and Health Research Center is a research institution and think tank, working to transform lives in Africa through research through generating evidence to drive policy action to improve the health and wellbeing of African people.

The Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, in New Delhi, India.
Hub led by Professor Tavpritesh Singh Sethi, Founding Head of the Center of Excellence in Healthcare.
The Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIIT-Delhi) was created by an act of Delhi legislature empowering it to carry out R&D, conduct educational programs, and grant degrees. Its research centres include the Infosys Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Centre for Computational Biology, Centre for Design and New Media – supported by the TCS Foundation, Centre of Technology in Policing, Centre of Sustainable Mobility, Centre of Excellence for Lifi/VLC, and Centre of Excellence in Healthcare.

The  Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health of the National University of Singapore, in Singapore.
Hub led by Professor Yik-Ying Teo, Dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. 
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH), under the National University of Singapore, was established in October 2011 as Singapore’s national school of public health to continually foster healthier communities in Singapore and the region. Through educational programmes and transnational cross-disciplinary research work, the school aims to impact public health programmes and policies, namely on epidemiology, infectious disease research, health technology assessments, health promotion, workplace safety and health, health systems evaluation and health services research.

The University of Johannesburg, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Hub led by Professor Babu Sena Paul, Head of Department.
Vibrant, multicultural and dynamic, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) shares the pace and energy of cosmopolitan Johannesburg, the city whose name it carries. Proudly South African, the university is alive down to its African roots, and well-prepared for its role in actualising the potential that higher education holds for the continent’s development. UJ has transformed into a diverse, inclusive, transformational and collegial institution, with a student population of over 50 000, of which more than 3000 are international students from 80 countries.