CO-Away: Evaluation of a digital platform for Indigenous self-governance, determination, and data sovereignty
With the 2nd wave of COVID-19, cases are currently rising across northern Indigenous communities, with the active caseload more than doubling in northern Saskatchewan reserves in mid-November 2020. More critical to this project, an Elder and youth member of our Advisory Council recently tested positive, reiterating the dire need for scalable, innovative platforms such as CO-Away to minimize the impact of subsequent COVID‑19 waves in Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. CO-Away is a culturally appropriate digital epidemiological platform to monitor, mitigate, and manage Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks. The CO-Away platform consists of two key components – a frontend virtual care smartphone application (app), and a backend digital decision-making dashboard. The app provides three key precision medicine services that are specific to each citizen: 1) continuous risk assessment of contracting COVID‑19 via the virtual doctor feature; 2) evidence-based public health communication; and 3) Citizen reporting of food availability, access to public services, and COVID‑19 symptoms and test results – these culturally-responsive features have been co-created with Ile-a-la-Crosse Metis decision-makers based on imminent community needs and preferences. The data from the virtual care app is transferred in real-time to a digital decision-maker dashboard, which is securely accessed by the Metis Mayor of Ile-a-la-Crosse. The dashboard will enable the Mayor’s office to assess both individual and community risk, including direct risk of COVID-19, as well as indirect effects such as food insecurity. The primary purpose of this three-year project is to evaluate the implementation of CO-Away for COVID‑19 rapid response, while readying the CO-Away digital infrastructure for other existing and emerging health crises in Indigenous communities.