Why is self-reporting important?
It is generally understood that widespread testing is the best method to understand the spread of COVID-19: “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected.” (World Health Organization Director-General, 16 March 2020). However, testing does not stop the spread of the virus and widespread testing presents a number of immediate challenges.
Yet testing is crucial to the two different preventative actions the World Health Organization recommends taking:
rapid diagnosis and immediate isolation of cases
rigorous tracking and precautionary self-isolation of close contact
Self-reporting offers immediate high-level tracking of the spread of the virus in a way that will help inform the general public’s self-isolating behavior, as well as provide key data for government and health services to act upon. This information can help mitigate the risk placed upon vulnerable individuals and ensure the general population is cognizant of its surroundings and monitoring its health. Currently the resource and logistics requirements of widespread testing are a barrier to understanding the health of the general population. Self-reporting, despite the lower fidelity of its data, is a useful method to address these challenges and help us to understand how COVID-19 is spreading.
How did we grow so fast?
The core flatten team is made entirely of first and second year university students, working around the clock to improve the site, but we have the backing and support of the broader computer science, artificial intelligence and healthcare community. We have support from individuals at the Vector Institute of Technology and CIFAR. This team was able to develop a product and get it to market very fast. Having support from news companies and media helped greatly. Flatten is now the official self-assessment tool in the City of Montreal and is continuing to develop relationships with public health across Canada.
Here are some of the major news articles about our platform:
By cross-referencing the dates of the news articles and media, you can see how much of an impact that it had on our user base.
Goals for Flatten
Flatten is expanding to the US shortly and we hope to enable other countries to leverage this powerful tool as soon as possible. Our team is constantly working to develop new features for the site to make it more robust and refine its data. Some of the immediate features that we are working on:
The ability to fill in the form on behalf of a family member.
Expanded form that will allow users to provide more data with direct relevance to COVID-19 research.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog,
Don’t forget to share Flatten with your friends and family,
The Flatten Team