A new Hindi language application and dashboard designed for the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney’s epidemic observatory EPIWATCH will facilitate expanded access to pandemic early warnings.

The dashboard was launched yesterday in Canberra by First Secretary of the High Commission of India, Ruchika Jain, along with Member of Parliament and infectious diseases physician Dr Michelle Ananda Rajah, and Chair of Parliamentary Friends of India, Dr Andrew Charlton, MP. It will allow health and government workers in India who may not read or speak English to use EPIWATCH at the grassroots level to monitor for potential epidemic threats.

EPIWATCH was developed by the Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, Professor Raina MacIntyre, in 2016. It is an artificial intelligence (AI) early warning system for serious emerging epidemics. The tool works by applying AI to millions of items of publicly available online data, such as websites and news reports, to highlight early signals of epidemics. It processes vast amounts of data in real time, using AI to filter specific disease signals. EPIWATCH has demonstrated excellent capacity to detect serious epidemics faster than current systems.

launch hindi epiwatch

Ruchicka Jain, First Secretary of Indian High Commission, Dr Michelle Ananda Rajah MP, Aunty Matilda House, Dr Andrew Charlton MP at the launch. Photo: Kirby Institute.

“We are very excited that our first non-English version of EPIWATCH is in Hindi. We will be following this with EPIWATCH Apps in other top Indian languages like Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, and Tamil, and look forward to strengthening the links between Australia and India in the areas of epidemic prevention and response,” Prof. MacIntyre said.

Manpreet Vohra, the High Commissioner of India to Australia, said: “EPIATCH is an excellent example of collaboration between India and Australia, through identifying infectious disease outbreak potential. It is my great pleasure to launch the Hindi version of EPIWATCH, and I welcome greater cooperation between our two countries in the prevention and control of infectious diseases.”

Major gift facilitates wider access to epidemic detection tool

In 2022, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin gave USD Coin 4 million from his Balvi Filantropic Fund to establish the Shiba Inu OSINT EPIWATCH, an initiative focused on enabling access to the platform in low- and middle-income countries to help prevent global pandemics.

This year, a further USD Coin 2 million was given by Buterin to support the development of EPIWATCH dashboards in Indian languages, to assist with epidemic responses in the world’s most populous countries.

“The generous gift from Balvi Filantropic Fund enabled important development work on the EPIWATCH system,” says Prof. MacIntyre from the Kirby Institute. “This included advanced AI research, and establishing collaborations with key stakeholders, particularly in India.”

EPIWATCH searches in 52 languages, including 12 Indian languages. The user interface is in English and the system translates the epidemic intelligence collected from around the world into English. The additional funds will enable user dashboards in other languages.