The online challenge was created through a partnership of the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and the Womack Army Medical Center at Ft. Bragg.

For Immediate Release

July 7, 2020

Technology-minded individuals from across the U.S. were up to the task of creating possible solutions to automate identification and contact tracing of potential COVID-19 patients in an online challenge to identify possible coronavirus carriers in the military. The challenge was created through a partnership of the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and the Womack Army Medical Center at Ft. Bragg.

Winners emerged in the top group of the NSIN/MindSumo online challenge to nearly 450,000 Millennial and Generation Z individuals to provide contact tracing solutions for military personnel. The competition was announced during earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic so that solutions could be developed to find out who those infected with the virus have been in contact with, inform them, and encourage them to self-quarantine. By combining tech solutions with contact tracing, the partnering organizations said it would be helpful in the efforts to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 was hopeful.

“The NSIN/Mindsumo challenge for Womack showed what can happen when innovative military leaders at Ft. Bragg are open to new ideas from new people,” said Tommy Sowers, NSIN Southeast Regional Director. “We look forward to continuing our work with the winners and Ft. Bragg leadership to implement these solutions and set a new, higher standard for contact tracing COVID-19.”

The top winner of the national challenge was Matthew Gaiser of Queen’s University, Charlotte, N.C. The second place winner was Ryder Babik of Washington and Lee University.

“I reviewed all of the submitted solutions and was very impressed with the various innovators and how they uniquely tackled different aspects of contact tracing – especially the two winning solutions,” said Sheryl A. Bedno, M.D., Director, Department of Public Health at Ft. Bragg. “Matthew Gaiser’s Moving Rapidly to Digital Contact Tracing with Lessons from IT Support uses a ticketing system, something well known in the IT world, to improve the efficiency and organization of the many moving parts of the contact tracing process.

“The second solution is NOVID, an app already available, which can alert someone to possible contact with COVID-19 positive individuals. We are working with the NOVID team to make this solution not only useful to the individual but also to our contact tracing staff,” Bedno said.

The challenge, which ran during the entire month of May, was designed to move COVID-19 contact tracing beyond manual tracking to digital alternatives, Sowers said.

To learn more about NSIN challenges, visit our Collaboration Portfolio.

About NSIN

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

About The Fort Bragg Public Health Department

The Fort Bragg Public Health department uses evidence-based practices to promote health and prevent disease, injury, and disability of our community members. The staff does this through clinical services, medical investigation, surveillance, and educational outreach.