An international response to a public health emergency involves a variety of public and private actors - all of whom rely upon coordination and information sharing to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of response efforts. In the context of pandemic preparedness and response, the lack of end-to-end visibility of supply chains is a major vulnerability to response efforts. More broadly, all humanitarian supply chains are vulnerable to suboptimal information sharing and coordination. However, there is currently no information system that provides end-to-end visibility of supply chains for pandemic interventions.
To address this, a sub-group within the PSCN is working to develop a collaborative web-based information platform to collect and share key information with the goal of improving visibility across supply chains and between stakeholders. The information collected will include estimates of supply needs, upstream supply locations and quantities, supply routes, and downstream logistics, supply inventories, and consumption metrics. The envisioned information platform would fill a significant gap in both pandemic preparedness and response efforts. Information collected, analysed, and shared within the platform would inform a wide-range of decision making across stakeholders, including decisions related to planning, supply procurement, upstream logistics, and downstream response efforts. The platform is intended to be global in scale with data across a wide geographical range and across multi-sector partners. Additionally, the intent of the platform is to collect timely and up-to-date information.
The figure illustrates the types of information that could be collected and shared in an information platform, including needs estimates from emergency coordinators and both upstream and downstream information. The sub-group, in collaboration with the broader PSCN, has adopted a methodical and iterative approach to work on the information platform. Over the past 18 months, the group has taken an initial list of high-level system considerations and moved steadily towards working prototypes of key system components. Feedback and consensus from the broader PSCN group has been collected throughout the process, including through quarterly face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, expert interviews, and simulation exercises.
The information platform will leverage a number of technologies in development by PSCN participants. To support planning and response efforts along the continuum of a disease outbreak, partner technology tools have been aligned with four key stages of outbreak progression:
- Outbreak warning
- Needs estimation
- Supply chain inventory, planning, and capacity monitoring
- In-country supply reporting
The specific technologies being developed to support an end-to-end information platform include:
- Focused Integration of Data for Early Signals (FIDES) is a web application developed by the University of Minnesota. FIDES ingests real-time open source media to identify and characterize both disease outbreaks and events that could lead to outbreaks.
- Operational Planning Application for Logistics and Supply (OPALS) is a web application developed by the World Health Organization. OPALS helps users to calculate supply estimates for outbreaks of infectious diseases.
- CRISTAL is a web application developed by the University of Minnesota to collect and visualize information related to supply needs, locations and quantities of commercial and humanitarian stocks, and shipments of products into affected regions.
- Visualization tools are being in developed through collaborations between WFP and UPS to support decision making related to air and ocean routing.
- An in-country supply reporting tool is in development by NEC Corporation that enables regular data collection regarding stocks, demand, and capacity information throughout in-country supply chains. The tool will provide visibility of items that have entered affected countries and have been consumed/shipped out of final delivery points or health care centers.
- Additionally, GS1 is providing expert guidance on issues related to data standards and master data across technology components.