Organization: Restart Partners – COVID Response for the Public Good
In late March of 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic I was deeply concerned about the health and economic vitality of the world, especially the most vulnerable. To contribute proactively during this unprecedented time, I joined a number of leading experts in data science, technology, business, supply chain and social impact to found a nonprofit called Restart Partners. In public-private collaboration with leading organizations, we developed a COVID response framework for the public good with $100,000 of seed funding. A minority and women run organization, Restart’s mission is saving lives and livelihoods through science, data and technology that empowers communities with evidence-based tools to protect the most vulnerable, increase public trust and enable all sectors of the economy to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restart Partners began with an effort to assist Washington State in planning for and procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We developed a free open-source data-driven model to help state and local leadership make important demand and purchasing decisions for PPE and other supplies. This work proved to be of great value to decision-makers early in the pandemic and our help was extended to other government agencies and communities across the country.
It became clear to us early on that, while PPE procurement and distribution were critical, PPE and other mitigation strategies would not be effective unless they were broadly adopted. We shifted our focus to increasing adoption of masks, as it became clear that this could effectively reduce disease spread. We have taken what we have learned and extended our modeling and behavioral change efforts to other COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategies including vaccination, to help communities stay healthy while helping businesses operate safely and build resilience.
Since inception, Restart Partners work has ranged from creating and launching the “Wear a Mask WA campaign” for WA Governor Jay Inslee, to numerous peer-to-peer social media mask and vaccination campaigns in the U.S. and India in partnership with Facebook, to an award-winning digital mask-selection tool for businesses and agriculture used in all 50 states, to a machine learning dashboard for small and minority businesses in multiple languages. All powered by millions of dollars in grants, in-kind ad credits and volunteer hours.
Restart Partners was awarded a $1.15 million federal US Economic Development Administration (EDA) Safe Start Grant to provide technical assistance to businesses in underrepresented and underserved communities. In partnership with Choiceflows and Tanjo AI, Restart Partners developed the Smart WA Decision Dashboard. These AI powered decision support tools include a business scorecard dashboard and a policy simulation tool, which are informed by public health and commerce data, behavioral choice experiments, and machine learning. The free, online dashboard was designed to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 reopening requirements, available resources for small business owners, as well as to aide their decision -making by providing real-time assessment and forecast of public health, economy, and community experience.
Our U.S. COVID behavioral change campaigns were conducted in partnership with University of Washington Communication Leadership and powered by over a million dollars of Facebook donated ad credits. It had a total reach of over 26 million people. We created almost 700 unique ads with over 140 million impressions.
Our Restart India program total campaign impact reach was over 50 million with almost a half billion impressions. An estimated 1.19 million people in India changed their behavior in response to the campaign.
Restart continues to provide public impact by publishing research and public speaking. As Restart moves into the next phase, it is proud to be recognized as a trusted partner with an impressive network of public-private partnerships.