Contribute to open source healthcare projects for COVID-19

Ways to put your programming and documentation skills to use by creating open source solutions to assist the medical community.
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Many of those that are familiar with the maker movement, including me, believe there is a significant opportunity to apply open source design principles and mass-scale collaborative distributed manufacturing technologies (like open source 3D printing) to at least partially overcome medical supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, an Italian hospital saved COVID-19 patients' lives by 3D printing valves for reanimation devices.

However, those designs were not open source, and hospitals still need to file paperwork to get to the STLs, needlessly wasting time, restricting the number of volunteers that could print the valves, and perhaps leading to unnecessary deaths. Far more beneficial would be a free source of vetted digital designs that anyone with access to equipment could fabricate for their local hospitals. Ideally, these designs would follow good open source design procedures. We are well aware of risks and shortcomings to this approach, and that those used to the standard model may not understand how fast technological development is in the open source community.

Many people agree there is enormous potential with the approach despite the challenges and have started to self-organize to develop open source hardware to fight COVID-19.

The largest group is Project Open Air. They are a group of "Helpful Engineers" who have congregated to aid in the COVID-19 pandemic response by developing both open source hardware and open source software. The Helpful Engineers are working on medical devices such as open source ventilators, to create a solution that can be quickly reproduced and assembled locally worldwide. Although just starting out, they have over 2,500 registered volunteers as of this writing, and their Slack team has grown extremely quickly (9,000+). If you are interested in offering your skills, please make a volunteer form submission now. For additional information on how you can help, visit here.

There are many volunteer opportunities regarding the open source ventilator challenges, including:

In addition, the good people responsible for the open source RepRap have started work on an open source oxygen concentrator that could use your help. And Hackaday has called for an Ultimate Medical Hackathon: How Fast Can We Design And Deploy An Open Source Ventilator?

Even if you are not a hardcore hacker, you can also help with documentation for the Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies Requirements. The goal of this project is to aggregate, distill into layman's terms, and write up as much accurate information available regarding:

  • The latest, most up-to-date COVID-19 treatment procedures
  • All the medical supplies needed to treat it in both ideal hospital environments and improvised home environments
  • All the design requirements around using and making those supplies (including relevant medical standards distilled into useful layman's principles)
  • How many of each type of supplies are needed, and where we might be short

Similarly, you can help co-write the Coronavirus Tech Handbook, which covers open source hardware solutions.

Please consider applying some of your time, talent, and skills to helping one of these projects. 

Lastly, I am sure I have missed a ton of opportunities—if I missed your project, please comment below and provide links.

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Joshua Pearce
Joshua M. Pearce is the John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation at the Thompson Centre for Engineering Leadership & Innovation.


I really agree with the huge opportunity in this moments to aggregate makers and open source ideas in fighting Covid-19. 3d printing is enough spread to help increasing production for missing medical equipment, but an overall coordination is still missing. Hope these movements can get gap closer

These are some wonderful opportunities! We are hosting an online hackathon 'Hack The Crisis- India' to combat the COVID-19 crisis with non-medical solutions. If some volunteers would like to participate, please redirect them to or
Thank you.

In view of COVID-19 out-break, thought to have an app that keep track of the unique mobile devices that are in the near field of less than 10mts.

How it helps to track the chain
For example you are a charity member / a citizen providing support for the needy; you many connect to people and you don't know how their health is going to be after 10days. By installing this app on all mobiles it keeps track of unique-mobile ids that are surrounded by you in less than 10mts.

The App automatically scans frequently and captures the surrounding mobile ids. The captured information is stored in mobile and synced to central database; data is stored for a period of 21days.

If member(A) of this app is tested with COVID +ve; he / his close member submit his status in the app; it will trigger the notification to all other community members with whom (B) he have connected in past 20days. Those who got the notification has to be self quarantine for few days to be safe for your family and rest of the community. If member (B) also +ve then it will send notification to his connected devices.

We only track the MAC address of the two open connect mobiles and stored in our database.

This is to track Open-connected people (Social connected) and not for Close connected like your family members staying in a single home

For more details:

Very helpful, thanks

Rather than using an arduino controlled 3-D printer to create a ventilator, is it possible to use a modified arduino controlled inkjet printer (or any device with a stepper motor capable of linear motion) so that it can actuate an ambu-bag?

Rather than using an arduino controlled 3-D printer to create a ventilator, is it possible to use a modified arduino controlled inkjet printer (or any device with a stepper motor capable of linear motion) so that it can actuate an ambu-bag?

Axonator is a data collecting application, in which we can collect intuitive healthcare surveys on your mobile, tab or desktop web browsers which can help doctor and organization to run a COVID-19 check survey.

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