History was made today at 14:14 CET on 22 July 2020 as the first COVID-19 Computer-Readable FAIR Data point of Observational Data was installed in Uganda, Africa and the World. The installation which was carried out under the Virus Outbreak Data Network (VODAN-Africa), is the first of its kind to be installed worldwide. This will be followed by installation in other partner Universities and hospitals in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, which will then present a worldwide internet of data that can be queried. This will provide a new layer of data that will help in the fight against COVID-19. This milestone has been achieved at a time that the WHO has expressed its concern on the spread of the virus on the African continent and the impact this is likely to have, in Africa as well as for the global containment of the virus.
The installation is on the basis of data held in residence. The format of the data-point is that distributed data are Findable, Accessible (under conditions), Interoperable and Re-usable (FAIR). It responds to concerns that data are of the highest quality when these are stewarded by the data producer. The data are curated in accordance with local compliance and regulatory framework and adherence to GDPR-based protection of personal data. The Virus Outbreak Data Network is a collaboration between Kampala International University, Leiden University and other universities, Addis Ababa University and Mekelle University in Ethiopia, Université de Sousse in Tunisia, Tangaza University in Kenya, Ibrahim Babamosi Babangida University, Lapai, Olabisi Onabanjo University and Data Science in Nigeria and Great Zimbabwe University in Zimbabwe.
The Installation was carried out by Mariam Basajja who is a PhD student from Leiden University and Kampala International University and witnessed by Vice-Chancellor of Kampala International University, and Chair of the VODAN-Africa Implementation Network, Dr. Mouhammed Mpezamihigo, as well as the technical team from the GO FAIR Foundation: Dr. Erik Schultes, Luiz Bonino, Marek Suchanek, Kees Burger and Data Stewards from Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
“This is historical”, said VC of KIU Dr. Mouhamed Mpezamihigo, “I have witnessed the installation of the COVID-19 FAIR Data point. We are proud as an academic institution to be able to support the first installation in Africa and worldwide. I congratulate the international team of GO FAIR, Leiden University and Leiden Institute for Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) and Philips Foundation who have collaborated with us. This will offer a new layer of data available for research worldwide to the fight against COVID-19.”
The Global Coordinator of the VODAN-Africa initiative and Professor at Leiden University, Prof. Mirjam van Reisen could not contain her excitement: “It is very important that observational quality FAIR-data on COVID-19 becomes available that is held in residence. This ensures data ownership remains within the country and the facility. Today is a milestone for data accountability. It is a great step forward to a distributed internet of machine-readable data in residence.”
"The collaboration between different organizations in the Netherlands and the Kampala International University in Uganda is a great achievement and an excellent example of cooperation across continents. We have experienced great team spirit in the VODAN Africa project and are looking forward to extending the virus-outbreak-network to other countries" states Bert Meerman, Director at GO FAIR Foundation
While thanking everyone who was present to witness the installation, Prof. Francisca Oladipo, who is also the Executive Coordinator of the VODAN-Africa Foundation, stated: “I thank our partners: Philips Foundation, CORDAID and Dutch Development Bank FMO who have shown so much interest while witnessing this historic journey. I promise that other VODAN-in-a-Box installations shall soon be publicly deployed in Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.”
LUMC is expected to deploy a COVID-19 FAIR Data Point this summer, at which point the first intra-continental data-query across two continents can be tested.