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Hidden Signals Challenge

About the Challenge
Can you identify biothreats in real-time?

Posted By: Department of Homeland Security
Category: Ideas
Partners: DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA), DHS National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC)
Skill: Scientific Interest: Health Submission Dates: 12 p.m. ET, Oct 17, 2017 - 4:59 p.m. ET, Dec 04, 2017 Judging Dates: Dec 05, 2017 - Jan 20, 2018

Biological threats (otherwise known as “biothreats”) are everyone’s concern. Whether you’re a private citizen, a city administrator, or government official, we all share a common interest in keeping our communities healthy and safe.

Biothreats occur when harmful pathogens are either naturally or deliberately released, posing a risk to national security and public health. Some of these pathogens can be transmitted from person to person, from inhalation or ingestion; and from exposure to powders, liquids, or aerosols. Infections caused by biothreats can lead to respiratory distress, gastrointestinal issues, and animal and human deaths. Often, biothreats are hard to immediately identify, and their spread can be hard to contain. If and when a potential biothreat appears, every minute counts. Local and national officials must work together to assess the level of risk, develop an action plan, and intervene. Currently, there are a variety of systems and tools in place; however, these tools largely rely on health data to detect signals. With the increasing proliferation of new technologies and data sources, such as the wealth of open data generated by progressively “smarter” cities and the trends that can now be observed through the aggregation of individual sharing, we now have an unprecedented opportunity. By harnessing these new streams of information, we may be able to identify an emerging problem more quickly and confidently, so we can ultimately resolve it faster.

Are early signals hiding in data we already have?

How could we use this publicly-accessible data to help identify emerging biothreats, contain their spread, and save lives?

With the Hidden Signals Challenge, DHS calls upon data innovators from a wide variety of fields— from data science, to civic tech, to epidemiology— to develop concepts for novel uses of existing data that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats in our cities and communities. Successful concepts will explore connections between multiple readily accessible data sources, to develop real-time insights that can improve public safety responses to emerging biothreats. DHS intends for this work to be the first step in the design of a local and/or national-level system that could enable city-level operators to make critical and proactive decisions based on the most relevant and actionable insights. The Challenge focuses on large metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta as the basis for a proof of concept, but is open to solutions that address all geographic locations.

Have questions? Click here to explore the archived informational webinar; it provides an in-depth overview of the Challenge, discuss what DHS is looking for, and covers Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Follow along by subscribing to the Hidden Signals Challenge Newsletter

This is a multi-stage prize competition with a total cash prize pool of $300,000.

Stage 1

Stage 1 seeks concepts for novel uses of existing data that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats in our cities and communities. Up to five (5) Finalists in the first stage of this prize competition will be selected by the judges according to official Challenge criteria and will each be awarded $20,000 in cash prizes.

Stage 2

Finalists from Stage 1 will move forward to Stage 2, where they will further develop their concepts into detailed system designs, with guidance from expert mentors as they compete for additional cash prizes. At the end of Stage 2, Finalists will be required to submit these detailed system designs, which will describe how concepts from Stage 1 are to be implemented in practice..

Submission Requirements: To be eligible to win a prize under this Competition, the Solver shall have registered to participate in the contest under the process and Solver User Agreement identified on the contest’s official entry site, which may be accessed at www.hiddensignalschallenge.com (hereafter referenced simply as “Competition Website”).

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calls upon data innovators from a wide variety of fields— from data science, to civic tech, to epidemiology— to develop concepts for novel uses of existing data that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats in our cities and communities. Successful concepts will explore connections between multiple readily accessible data sources, to develop real-time insights that can improve public safety responses to emerging biothreats.

Detailed instructions and submission format may be found on the Competition Website.

If you encounter any issues, please email [hello@hiddensignalschallenge.com] with a description of the problem, a screenshot, and the date and time of the occurrence.

Submission Format: * denotes required field

Registration & Contact Information

  • Team Lead & Primary Contact* Name / Email / Phone Number / Affiliation
  • Additional Team Members* Name / Email / Phone Number / Affiliation

 

Concept Summary

  • Submission Title.* Proposed name for your concept.
  • Submission Description.* What is the headline for your concept? Briefly describe your concept and approach. (15 words)

 Data

  • What freely available and/or low-cost data sources do you plan to use? Please describe each data source, noting any costs associated with access (if applicable). (200 words)*
  • Describe key characteristics and limitations of your data, with a particular focus on the sustainability of your data over time. Are there any potential risks or changes that may impact the stability of your data? What are the prospects for continued government access? (200 words)*
  • What other data would you use to improve your concept if constraints, such as government accessibility and cost, were not an issue? (250 words)*
  • Does your concept rely on any third-party data sources, resources, content or technology? If so, please describe and affirm that appropriate documentation for all licenses and releases can be supplied upon request of the Department of Homeland Security and/or Luminary Labs. (150 words)*

 Analysis

  • What kind of signals might your concept be capable of identifying? How will you analyze the data sources listed above to generate actionable insights pertaining to these signals? (500 words)*
  • What level of confidence would result from your analysis? Are there any known correlations or hypotheses that support this data’s relevance to biothreat detection? (300 words)*
  • If you were to build out this concept, how might you benefit from any known artificial intelligence or machine learning methods? (100 words)*

 System Design Considerations

  • What geographic areas of the United States does your concept cover? Select all that apply to your concept as it currently is scoped.*
    • Atlanta
    • Austin
    • Boston
    • Chicago
    • Los Angeles
    • New York
    • San Francisco
    • Washington D.C.
    • National
    • Other: [open field]
  • Describe the operational end user (i.e., city-level public safety personnel) and how your concept might support their day-to-day decision-making. Consider how the information generated by your analysis might complement existing systems, including any measures you would take to reduce noise and “alert fatigue.” (200 words)*
  • Please outline the major costs of accessing and analyzing the data if your concept was built for the city or cities indicated above. (200 words)*
  • If you were to build out this concept, what privacy constraints would you face, and how would you address them? For more information on privacy constraints, please refer to the “Additional Resources & Reading” section on privacy. (150 words)*
  • Describe how your concept could potentially expand to address other geographies, agents or syndromes, and/or share insights with other existing systems. (150 words)*

 Team

  • Describe your team’s expertise, experience, and interest in refining this concept into a system design if selected as a Finalist. (500 words)*

 Optional: Additional Assets

  • If available, upload or link to additional research abstracts, presentations, data visualizations, or other supporting visual information that may help us better understand your concept. Accepted upload file formats include: .ppt, .pptx, .doc, .docx, .pdf, .jpg, .png (50 MB max).

Team Affiliation

  • I am applying on behalf of:*
    • Myself
    • A legal entity: [Name of entity]=
  • If applying on behalf of yourself, you must disclose the names of any team members that are foreign citizens. If your team has no foreign citizens, please state “none”. Please see the Official Rules, Terms & Conditions for additional details concerning eligibility.
Judges
Eric Moore, PhD
Director, Research & Technology, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center
Gary Schenkel
Former Executive Director, Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC); Committee Member, Homeland Security Science and Technology Committee Members (HSSTAC)
Ida Sim, MD, PhD, FACMI
Co-Director, Biomedical Informatics, UCSF Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute
Matthew Davenport, PhD
Program Manager, Chemical and Biological Defense Division, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency
Ranu Dhillon, MD
Special Advisor to the President and National Ebola Coordinator, Government of Guinea; Senior Health Advisor, Earth Institute, Columbia University
Sheila van Cuyk, PhD
Program Manager, Chemical and Biological Defense Division, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency
Thomas McGinn, DVM
Senior Science Advisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Biosurveillance Integration Center
Judging Criteria

Judging Criteria: This Competition is a challenge of knowledge and skill.

Stage 1 Finalist Selection Criteria

The judges will use the selection criteria to select up to five (5) Finalists from the pool of eligible entries in Stage 1, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) for final approval. Criteria for Stage 2 will be announced at a later date.

When evaluating Stage 1 entries, judges will assign each submission one to five points in each of the criteria categories below (for a total of up to 30 points):
• Originality. Presents a novel approach to the problem, and offers creative solutions and unique hypotheses.

• Impact. Has the potential to significantly advance current city-level practices and resources for identifying biothreat signals, and simultaneously complements existing resources.

• Feasibility. Demonstrates significant potential to rapidly detect patterns with a high degree of confidence, ideally within a day of exposure and no longer than ten days from exposure, and uses technically sound methods that are backed by credible supporting evidence.

• Sustainability. Makes use of freely available and/or low-cost data sources that are readily accessible to city-level operators and DHS on a consistent and long-term basis.

• Scalability. Has the ability or potential to expand to other geographic areas, or signals indicative of biothreat incidents or other scenarios of concern for homeland security.

• Team. Demonstrates an appropriate level of experience, commitment, and ability to move from concept to system design within the timeline of the Challenge.

If any potential Finalist is found to be ineligible, has not complied with these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions, or declines the applicable cash prize for any reason prior to award, such potential Finalist will be disqualified, and an alternate winner may be selected.
The selection criteria are to be applied in the sole discretion of DHS, the individual review panelists and judges, and are subject to modification by DHS. By participating in the Challenge, each entrant into the Challenge acknowledges and agrees that such evaluations may differ from person to person and agrees to be bound by and not challenge the final decisions of DHS.

The judging scores will not be posted. Feedback will not be provided to entrants that are not selected as Finalists.

Should the volume of first round submissions exceed the capacity of the listed judges to conduct a thorough evaluation of the submissions, a sub panel of judges consisting of experienced researchers, data scientists, and other qualified persons may collectively score the full set of submissions received during Stage 1 open submissions. They will use the Challenge criteria to determine the subset of submissions that will be scored by the judges.

How to Enter

To be eligible to win a prize under this Competition, the Solver shall have registered to participate in the contest under the process and Solver User Agreement identified on the contest’s official entry site, which may be accessed at www.hiddensignalschallenge.com

Prizes
Stage 1 Prize Purse $100,000.00 Up to 5 Finalists in the first stage of this prize competition will be selected by the judges according to official Challenge criteria and will each be awarded $20,000 in cash prizes. Following the completion of Stage 1, Finalists from Stage 1 will move forward to Stage 2, where they will compete for an additional $200,000 in cash prizes. The Stage 2 cash prize of $200,000 will be distributed to the winner(s) based on the review of the Stage 2 submissions by the judges. As part of their acceptance of the associated Stage 1 cash prize, Finalists agree to participate in Stage 2 activities, which will include the further development of concepts into detailed system designs, with guidance from a panel of expert mentors. At the end of Stage 2, Finalists will be required to submit these detailed system designs, which will describe how concepts from Stage 1 are to be implemented in practice.
Stage II Prize Purse $200,000.00 Challenge Finalists from the first stage of the Challenge (Stage 1) may be invited to participate in a second phase (Stage 2), for the chance to compete for an additional $200,000 in cash prizes.
Solutions
No solutions have been posted for this challenge yet.
Rules

Overview: The Competition will be administered and run on Luminary Labs prize competition platform, Luminary LightboxTM. Submission rules and submission details are located on the official prize competition site.

Submission Requirements: To be eligible to win a prize under this Competition, the Solver shall have registered to participate in the contest under the process and Solver User Agreement identified on the contest’s official entry site, which may be accessed at http://www.hiddensignalschallenge.com(hereafter referenced simply as “Competition Website”).

Detailed instructions and submission format may be found on the Competition Website.

If you encounter any issues, please email [hello@hiddensignalschallenge.com] with a description of the problem, a screenshot, and the date and time of the occurrence.

Eligibility Requirements: A complete set of rules and eligibility requirements may be found on the contest’s official entry site located at http://www.hiddensignalschallenge.com(hereafter referenced simply as “Competition Rules”).

The Competition is open to all individuals (non-felons) over the age of 18, United States Citizens or legal permanent residents at the time of entry and to all validly formed legal U.S. entities whose primary place of business is in the U.S. that have not declared or been declared in bankruptcy. Eligibility is subject to verification by the Competition Sponsor before Cash Prizes are awarded.

Officers, directors, advisory board members, employees, and support contractors of the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Health Affairs, Luminary Labs and its contractors (with the express exception of Luminary Lab’s authorized solver community), and judges are ineligible to compete in this Competition. Likewise, members of their immediate family (spouses, children, step-children, siblings, step-siblings, parents, step-parents), and persons living in the same household, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in any portion of this Competition. Note: The members of an individual’s household include any other person who shares the same residence as such individual for at least three months out of the year.

You are not eligible to receive any Cash Prize in the Competition if you are a resident designated by the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (see http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx for additional information).

To be eligible to win a cash prize under this Competition, an individual or entity:

  • Shall have registered to participate in the Competition under the rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate (Competition Sponsor) in accordance with the description provided on the Competition Website.
  • Shall have complied with all of the requirements on the official Competition Website.
  • Pursuant to the America COMPETES Act of 2010, monetary and non-monetary awards for this Prize Competition may only be given to an individual that is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States or an entity that is incorporated in and whose primary place of business is in the United States, subject to verification by the Competition Sponsor before prizes are awarded; an individual or private entity must be the registered entrant to be eligible to win a prize.
  • Entities selected as a Competition Cash Prize Winner must register or be previously registered in the System for Awards Management (http://www.sam.gov) in order to receive a cash prize. Registration in the System for Awards Management is not a prerequisite for submitting an entry to this Prize Competition. Failure to register in the System for Awards Management within 30 days of notification by Luminary Labs, Inc. will result in a disqualification of the winning entry. An individual or entity that is determined to be on the Excluded Parties List (www.sam.gov) is ineligible to receive a cash prize award and will not be selected as a Competition Cash Prize Winner.
  • Individuals and entities, otherwise eligible to win a prize, may form and submit a team entry; however, each eligible individual or entity must first register as an individual or entity participant for the contest before they form a team. Failure to follow this procedure as outlined on the contest website will disqualify the contest submission. Team winnings, as determined by the Contest Sponsor, will be distributed to the designated team leader for further distribution to team members.
  • Contestants to this Prize Competition must: agree to be bound by the rules of the Prize Competition, agree that the decision of the judges for this Prize Competition are final and binding, and acknowledge that their submission may be the subject of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and that they are responsible for identifying and marking all business confidential and proprietary information in their submission.
  • Individuals and Individual Team Leaders selected as a Competition Cash Prize Winner must submit all required taxpayer identification and bank account information required to complete an electronic payment of the cash prize. Failure to provide the government required documents for electronic payment within 30 days of notification by Luminary Labs, Inc. will result in a disqualification of the winning entry.
  • Participants in this Prize Competition agree, as a condition for winning a cash prize, to complete and submit all required winner verification documents to Luminary Labs, Inc. within 30 days of notification. Failure to return all required verification documents by the date specified in the notification may be a basis for disqualification of the winning entry.
  • Contestants to this Prize Competition must agree and consent, as a condition for receiving a cash prize, to the use of their name, entity, city and state, likeness or image, comments, and a short synopsis of their winning solution as a part of the Department of Homeland Security’s promotion of this Prize Competition.
  • By participating in this Competition, contestants must agree to indemnify the Federal Government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Competition activities and for damage or loss to government property resulting from such activity.
  • Contestants must own or have access at their own expense to a computer, an Internet connection, and any other electronic devices, documentation, software, or other items that contestants may deem necessary to create and enter a submission.
  • The following Participants (including any individuals participating as part of a team or entity) are not eligible regardless of whether they meet the criteria set forth above:
    • Any Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of his or her employment or otherwise be prohibited by Federal law (employees should consult their agency ethics officials). Note: Federal ethical conduct rules may restrict or prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain outside activities; any federal employee not excluded under the prior paragraph seeking to participate in this Competition outside the scope of employment should consult his/her agency’s ethics official prior to developing a submission;
    • Any individual or entity that used DHS Federal facilities or relied upon significant consultation with DHS Federal employees to develop a submission, unless the facilities and employees were made available to all Participants in this Competition on an equal basis; and
    • Any individual or entity that used Federal funds to develop a submission, unless such use is consistent with the grant award, or other applicable Federal funds awarding document. If a grantee using Federal funds enters and wins this Prize Competition, the prize monies must be treated as program income for purposes of the original grant in accordance with applicable Office of Management and Budget Circulars. Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop a submission for this Competition.
  • Per 15 U.S.C. 3719(h), an individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible under these eligibility rules because the individual or entity used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the Competition on an equitable basis.
  • Use of Marks: Except as expressly set forth in the Participant Agreement or the Competition rules, participants shall not use the names, trademarks, service marks, logos, insignias, trade dress, or any other designation of source or origin subject to legal protection, copyrighted material or similar intellectual property (“Marks”) of the organizers or other Prize Competition partners, sponsors, or collaborators in any way without such party’s prior written permission in each instance, which such party may grant or withhold at its sole and absolute discretion.
  • If the submission includes the work of any third party (such as third-party content or open source code), the entrant must be able to provide, upon the request of DHS and/or Luminary Labs, documentation of all appropriate licenses and releases for such third-party works. If the entrant cannot provide documentation of all required licenses and releases, DHS reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify the applicable submission, or direct the entrant to secure the licenses and releases for DHS’s benefit within three (3) days of notification of the missing documentation and allow the applicable submission to remain in the Challenge. In addition, DHS reserves all rights to pursue an entrant for claims based on damages incurred by the entrant’s failure to obtain such licenses and releases.
  • By participating in the Challenge, each entrant represents, warrants, and covenants as follows: The entrants are the sole authors, creators, and owners of the submission; The entrant’s submission:
    • Is not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation claim;
    • Does not, and will not, violate or infringe upon the intellectual property rights, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other legal rights of any third party;
    • Does not, and will not, contain any harmful computer code (sometimes referred to as “malware,” “viruses,” or “worms”); and
    • The submission and entrant’s use of the submission does not, and will not, violate any applicable laws or regulations of the United States.
  • An individual or entity that is determined to be on the GSA Excluded Parties List (www.sam.gov) is ineligible to receive a cash prize award and will not be selected as a Prize Competition winner.
  • All entry information submitted on the Challenge website and all materials, including any copy of the submission, becomes property of DHS and will not be acknowledged or returned by Luminary Labs or DHS. However, entrants retain ownership of their concepts, including any software, research, or other intellectual property (“IP”) that they develop in connection therewith, subject to the license granted to DHS to use submissions as set forth in the “Intellectual Property of Submissions” section below. Proof of submission is not considered proof of delivery to or receipt of such entry. Furthermore, DHS and Luminary Labs shall have no liability for any submission that is lost, intercepted, or not received by DHS and/or Luminary Labs. DHS and Luminary Labs assume no liability or responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, theft, destruction, or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, submissions.

DHS reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entrant who is found to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Challenge, Challenge website, or other Challenge-related websites; to be acting in violation of these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions; or to be acting in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with the intent to disrupt or undermine the legitimate operation of the Challenge; or to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any other person; and DHS reserves the right to seek damages and other remedies from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. DHS reserves the right to disqualify any submission that DHS, in its discretion, deems to violate these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions.

If any potential Finalist is found to be ineligible, has not complied with these Official Rules, Terms & Conditions, or declines the applicable cash prize for any reason prior to award, such potential Finalist will be disqualified, and an alternate winner may be selected.

The selection criteria are to be applied in the sole discretion of DHS, the individual review panelists and judges, and are subject to modification by DHS. By participating in the Challenge, each entrant into the Challenge acknowledges and agrees that such evaluations may differ from person to person and agrees to be bound by and not challenge the final decisions of DHS.

The judging scores will not be posted. Feedback will not be provided to entrants that are not selected as Finalists.

Should the volume of first round submissions exceed the capacity of the listed judges to conduct a thorough evaluation of the submissions, a sub panel of judges consisting of experienced researchers, data scientists, and other qualified persons may collectively score the full set of submissions received during Stage 1 open submissions. They will use the Challenge criteria to determine the subset of submissions that will be scored by the judges.

Each entrant retains title to, and full ownership of, its submission. The entrant expressly reserves all intellectual property rights not expressly granted under this agreement. By participating in the Challenge, each entrant hereby irrevocably grants a license to DHS and Luminary Labs to store, access and modify submissions in perpetuity that may be reproduced or distributed in the future.

Intellectual Property

As part of their acceptance of the Stage 1 cash prize, each Finalist grants to DHS and its designees a worldwide, non-exclusive, sub-licensable, transferable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to use, not use, reproduce, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform, publicly display, digitally perform, make, have made, sell, offer for sale and import their Stage 1 submission, in any media now known or hereafter developed, for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, without further approval by or payment to the Finalist, and represents that he/she/it has the unrestricted right to grant that license. Furthermore, the Finalist hereby grants the government and its designees a worldwide, non-exclusive, sub-licensable, transferable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, unlimited rights to the government or its designees to apply or utilize the submission, modified submission, or derivative work with other data not owned by the Finalist and that all resulting data output is available to the government for unlimited use.

Please refer to the Submission License section above for further information regarding rights to submissions.

Privacy: Personal information provided by entrants (Solvers) on the nomination form through the Prize Competition website will be used to contact selected finalists. Information is not collected for commercial marketing. Winners are permitted to cite that they won this Competition after it has been officially announced by the Department of Homeland Security. The names, cities, and states of selected winner or entity will be made available in promotional materials and at recognition events.

Payment of the Prize: Prizes awarded under this Competition will be paid by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate and must be received by the Solver(s) via electronic funds transfer. All Federal, state, and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner(s). DHS Science and Technology will comply with the Internal Review Service withholding and reporting requirements, where applicable.

 

Submit Solution
Submissions for this competition are being accepted on a third-party site. Please visit the external site for instructions on submitting: http://www.hiddensignalschallenge.com
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