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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

IBME receives SNF funding to develop PubliCo, an experimental online platform for COVID-19 related public perception

As the Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2) continues to spread globally, causing severe human disease and death (COVID-19), citizens around the world have been exposed to crisis communication from a diverse spectrum of media outlets, including websites of public health authorities and universities, newspapers, television broadcasts, and social media platforms.

These policy briefings, expert opinions, popular sentiments as well as dashboards, interactive maps and visuals, have not only become sources of information but also an incubator for emotional responses, moral judgements, and behavioral changes in daily routines, during a public health emergency. 

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the DSI, the Collegium Helveticum, the IBME, and the SwissTPH has come together to develop an experimental, interactive online platform that helps tackle the “infodemic” manifested in the COVID-19 context, with a focus on a nuanced and in-depth understanding of public perception. 

Building on real-time data, continuous data collection through a participatory citizen science approach and advanced, AI-based analytics, the highly adaptable platform aims to foster effective and tailored risk and crisis communication in Switzerland and other countries, to help mitigate negative social effects of COVID-related policies and to provide insights for an emerging ethical framework for public health crisis communication and policy-making.