VODAN Africa Installs Second FAIR Data Point for COVID-19

Barely two weeks after the successful installation of the first VODAN-in-a-Box in Kampala International University, the second Machine-actionable FAIR Data point for COVID-19 was installed at exactly 2.44pm WAT today 4th August 2020 at Data Science Nigeria under the Virus Outbreak Data Network (VODAN-Africa) initiative. The installation was carried out by Oluwatobi Babajide of Data Science Nigeria under the technical guidance of Mariam Basajja, a PhD student at Leiden University and Kampala International University.

 VODAN Africa Installs second FAIR Data Point for COVID-19

The two-hour session hosted by Charles Kahiro and Ivy Wachira of Ravel Works, Africa, and witnessed by 33 participants which consists of Data Stewards and observers from Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and the United States commenced with a presentation by the Convener of Data Science Nigeria, Dr. Olubayo Adekambi. He showcased some of the works of the organization and chronicled the journey towards becoming the Premier Artificial Intelligence hub in Nigeria and West Africa.

VODAN in a Box is a toolset to facilitate the capture of data related to virus outbreaks and the publication of metadata describing these datasets. It is one of the highlighted outcomes of two GO FAIR Foundation projects funded by the Philips Foundation and ZonMw, that focus on making SARS CoV-2 virus data FAIR. As a result, real world COVID-19 patient data is available for research, under well-defined conditions and with patient privacy well protected.

I am happy spending one of the best two hours of 2020 witnessing the installation of the second VODAN-Africa COVID-19 FAIR Data Point” said Prof. Francisca Oladipo, the Executive Coordinator of VODAN Africa. “After this, we are coming back East of Africa to install for Ethiopia and we shall continue until we have the network of FAIR Data Points on COVID-19 covering all the regions of Africa” she added.

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.

This makes me really proud” said Barend Mons, Professor in Biosemantics, Leiden University Medical Center and Strategic Director GO FAIR International Support and Coordination Office, “This is South-South collaboration at its best!” he added. Further supporting the initiative, the Director, GO FAIR Foundation, Bert Meerman said “We feel that the VODAN project will assist in managing and controlling current and future virus outbreaks.  The implementation of VODAN at DSN in Nigeria is another major step forward in this process.”

The Global Coordinator, VODAN Africa, and Professor at Leiden and Tilburg Universities, Mirjam van Reisen in identifying the significance of the installations of the FDPs in Africa said: “Achieving these milestones at this critical time, even when the WHO has expressed its concern on the spread of the virus in Africa and the likely impact, shows the readiness of the Data Scientists on the continent to contribute to the containment of the virus. Congratulations to the VODAN-Africa team!”.

The Coordinator of the VODAN-Africa Nigeria Team, Dr. Sakinat Folorunsho was filled with words of appreciation for everyone present. She promised that other FDPs will soon be publicly installed in Nigeria in the coming weeks.