NSIN, MindSumo partnership presents online challenge to identify potential COVID-19 patients in U.S. military

For Immediate Release

April 30, 2020

RALEIGH, NC – The national fight against COVID-19 has yielded a unique partnership between Ft. Bragg, a North Carolina based startup and the Department of Defense’s broader innovation efforts. On May 1, these partners will launch a challenge to engage thousands of students to create new solutions to automate identification and contact tracing of potential coronavirus patients.

The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), a program office within the U.S. Department of Defense that generates new solutions to national security problems, has partnered with Ft. Bragg and the Womack Army Medical Center to sponsor a MindSumo online challenge. The goal of this challenge is to jointly discover innovative solutions and insights from a community of nearly 450,000 Millennial & Gen Z users.

“In the current state, the contact tracking process is manual,” said Tommy Sowers, NSIN Southeast Regional Director. “This challenge will seek tech solutions to support identification or detective work in tracking contagious diseases by providing data tracking and collection options to the Ft. Bragg and Fayetteville community.”

Currently, contact tracing procedure starts when a positive COVID-19 case is identified, and a public health nurse subsequently contacts the individual to obtain information such as symptoms, risk factors, and contacts. A contact tracing team then follows up with those who were in contact with the infected individual to obtain more information and provide guidance and education to those who may have been exposed. Those who have been in contact with an active patient are encouraged to self-quarantine. There can be up to several dozen contacts that need to be reached per positive case.

“This challenge is designed to source digital alternatives to revamp and modernize the contact tracing process for COVID-19, moving it beyond manual tracking,” Sowers said.

The online challenge is presented by Mindsumo, a company that helps organizations launch online crowdsourcing contests called “challenges” to jointly discover innovative solutions and insights from its community of Millennial and Gen Z users.

The online challenge will launch on Friday, May 1, 2020, and run for four weeks, ending on Friday, May 29, 2020.

For more information, interested participants may sign up on MindSumo


The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) is a program office within the U.S. Department of Defense. The NSIN mission is to “build networks of innovators that generate new solutions to national security problems.” NSIN is headquartered in Arlington, VA, and has regional offices in 11 commercial innovation hubs throughout the United States. Through its headquarters, regional hubs, and embedded university partnerships, NSIN builds a national network of innovators and delivers programming that solves real-world, DoD problems through collaborative partnerships with non-traditional problem-solvers within the academic and early-stage venture communities.