News & Press: Press Release

John Hopkins Center for Health Security’s Disease Prediction Platform

Friday, January 18, 2019  
Share |

Date: Thu 17 Jan 2019
From: Tara Kirk Sell

In collaboration with ProMED-mail, I'm pleased to announce the launch of new disease prediction project developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

We would like to invite you to participate on our prediction platform and help us to develop meaningful forecasts for infectious disease outcomes. This platform is designed to use collective intelligence to provide health security leaders with crowdsourced forecast data to inform their decision making about infectious disease preparedness and response policies and interventions.

We are asking you, as experts in this field, to use the prediction platform tool to make the most accurate disease forecasts that you can. You are encouraged to check back in to update your predictions and respond to newly posted questions regularly. The project runs at least through the end of 2019 and prizes (described in the FAQ below) will be awarded twice during that time.

Please sign up using the following link:

You can contact me via email at

We are grateful for your help and support. Thank you, and good luck!


Tara Kirk Sell, PhD
Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security


Who is asking these questions?
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (the Center ) developed this set of forecasting questions for its Collective Intelligence for Disease Prediction project, which involves gathering, analyzing, and disseminating collective intelligence from public health experts and expert predictors about the outcomes of potentially significant public health events.

What is the purpose of this prediction platform?
The purpose of the Center's project is to provide crowdsourced forecast data for decision makers that can supplement current traditional surveillance and modeling efforts. The long term aim of this effort is to develop a prediction tool that will provide useful real time predictive information to health security leaders to inform their decision making about emerging infectious disease epidemics.

What benefits are there to participating in this forecasting work?
As mentioned above, by participating in this effort, you are providing potential benefits to public health surveillance, response, and policy for infectious disease outbreaks. If you make accurate predictions and participate consistently on the platform you may become one of our top predictors, making you eligible to receive a gift card, have a donation made in your name, and/or have the opportunity to be highlighted in the Center for Health Security's digital communications.

Who can participate?
This collective forecasting platform is aimed toward public health experts, doctors, epidemiologists, modelers, risk experts, vector control officials, individuals with on-the-ground understanding of conditions surrounding disease outbreaks, and others who are interested in outbreaks. Anyone can participate, but we ask that participants understand the serious nature of predicting public health outcomes.

What information from participants will be included in project materials?
All data collected will be used for research purposes and in ways that will not reveal any individually identifiable information. Any reports, publications or presentations related to this project will report data in aggregate or by demographic cohort only. In addition,

1. Any personal information that could identify you will be removed or changed before files are shared with other researchers or results are made public.

2. Any predictions you make are anonymous and identified publicly only by the username you select.

What are the prizes and how will they be determined?
Prizes will be awarded at 2 points during the contest: at 6 months and 12 months. The 5 highest-rated forecasters at each point will receive a choice of AMEX or VISA gift card, or a donation in their name to a charity of their choice.

1st place prize is USD 599
2nd place prize is USD 400
3rd place prize is USD 250
4th place prize is USD 150
5th place prize is USD 100.

An additional 20 participants will win USD 50 each in a lottery drawing. The lottery system is also performance-based with lottery tickets awarded based on ranking. Thus, those who perform better are more likely to win a prize.

How is my forecasting performance scored?
Your performance is measured relative to everyone else's (the crowd) performance. 2 factors are important for your score -- timeliness and accuracy. Every day, the platform records your latest forecast on every question. When a question is resolved, we can compute the accuracy of each of your daily forecasts on that question, then compare it to the median accuracy of other participants. You score points when your forecasts are more accurate than those of most other participants, otherwise you lose points. The better or worse your relative accuracy is, the more you win or lose points. You score 0 when you are right in the middle of the pack. The bottom line is that you are scored for both the accuracy and timeliness, so being right before others increases your score.

How often should I update my forecasts?
As often as possible. The best forecasters often revise their forecasts to reflect their most up-to-date understanding of the questions. A rule of thumb is to reexamine your forecast on a regular basis and update it whenever new information becomes available to you, or if any of the assumptions underlying your forecast appear to be changing. The platform lets you set Alarms for each question to prompt you to review your forecast. That said, when you update your forecast several times on any particular day, only your latest forecast will be scored that day, so there's usually no point in updating your forecasts more than once a day.

How long does forecasting take?
Forecasting is highly dependent on each individual -- you should spend whatever time you feel is appropriate to give an informed answer.

Who is funding this project?
The project is funded through the support of the Open Philanthropy Project.