Combat COVID-19 the Open Source Way

Home page of CombatCovid

Authors and contributors: Santosh Ilamparuthi, Marta Teperek, Anke Versteeg and Yasemin Turkyilmaz – van der Velden

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has led to a shortage of vital healthcare equipment, especially personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. This has led to a dramatic increase in demand for possible solutions. People around the world, including researchers,  have started working on various solutions from simple ventilators, homemade face masks and testing equipment.

More does not always mean better

While this outpouring of ideas and projects is welcome, healthcare professionals and others who wish to make use of these resources do not have any guidance as to where to turn. Searching online for these projects is not easy and it might be difficult to find the best resource. Searching in Google for “open ventilator design” returns about 70,200,000 results. Even when promising solutions are found, often the quality and feasibility of the solution isn’t easily verifiable. Malicious actors and profiteering happens aplenty as well.  Additionally, the documentation about the details needed to reproduce the solutions are mostly not available.

The need for FAIR

In short, we want to help in making the projects and proposed solutions as FAIR (Findable Accessible Interoperable and Reusable) as possible. The solution for this comes from José Carlos Urra Llanusa, a former TU Delft student and current Data Champion. Along with collaborators and members of the Delft Open Hardware team, he has developed the CombatCovid App that enables the standardisation of documentation for hardware projects related to COVID-19. This open source project hosted on github has developers from around the world working on it. It also provides assistance to those who are unfamiliar with the best practices in documenting open source hardware projects. José has also recently received funding from the EOSC Secretariat Steering Group for hardocs, a package to make hardware documentation intuitive and user friendly.

The app also uses sophisticated search to find hardware designs within the documented database. It is able to handle misspellings and multiple keywords. The fast search functionality along with documentation in multiple languages provides hardware documentation for COVID-19 relevant devices to a broad audience. The documentation format is already available in English and Spanish, versions in Dutch, Russian and Portuguese are currently being prepared.

Documentation is vital for re-usability

A single location to access all relevant projects along with documentation in a single format enables users to efficiently use the resources. Several projects like the MIT ventilator and various face shields have already been documented by volunteers from Delft Open Hardware (see examples here and here). TU Delft students participating in workshops on data documentation and using GitHub also contributed to the documentation of some projects.

Image from the documentation of MIT Ventilator

TU Delft project Project Mask is in the process of being documented at CombatCovid with more TU Delft projects (OperationAir, Project INSPIRATION) in discussions on documenting. Funding resources are available through the TU Delft COVID-19 response fund and the data refinement fund

Image from the documentation of a 3D printable face shield

Support available

The team developing the CombatCovid app along with members of Delft Open Hardware community are available through discord to help teams document their projects. The assistance provided includes:

  • step by step guide in structuring the documentation and source files,
  • uploading the documentation to the github repository,
  • creating a resource metadata file that will help others find the project and get a quick overview of the status and relevance,
  • providing a structure that allows other contributors to translate the project documentation in various languages and selecting an appropriate license for your project.

How to join

People interested in helping with the development of the app or in helping others document their projects can join the Discord channel or through the GitHub repository

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