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IBM Enters Second Phase of NIH Contract for Development of Verifiable Health Status Reporting and Contact Tracing

Selects WSSC Water to Pilot Innovative Technology to Enhance Employee Safety
Feb 25, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. - FEB. 25, 2021 IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it has been awarded the second phase of the Digital Health Solutions for COVID-19 contract by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue its work to develop and implement digital health solutions that are designed to help address the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to help reopen public places. After being awarded the first phase of the contract by NIH last September as one of the seven digital health technologies for COVID-19, and demonstrating the feasibility of IBM's integrated solution, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), both part of NIH, awarded this phase of the contract, allowing the pilot program to deploy these technologies in collaboration with a third-party organization. 

The innovative solutions provided by IBM are designed to support sophisticated contact tracing and verifiable health status reporting and can help NCI and NIBIB leverage critical real-world evidence from multiple data sources to inform health officials about and shape policy for public health preparedness and future pandemic responses. The anonymized data collected will be hosted in NIH's central data hub, will be accessible by researchers, and will provide individuals participating in the pilot with a verifiable and privacy-preserving way to manage and share their vaccination and health status. 

"Emerging smarter from the COVID-19 pandemic requires adopting technologies to increase resiliency. As testing becomes more widespread and vaccines are distributed, it's more important than ever to foster innovative thinking and develop solutions such as IBM Digital Health Pass, designed to support organizations in bringing people back to a physical location," said Andrew Fairbanks, IBM Managing Partner, U.S. Federal Sector Leader. "IBM is committed to supporting the federal government through this collaboration with the NIH to help agencies return to work in alignment with public health guidance.”

Over the next months, IBM will work with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC Water), one of the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, serving 1.8 million residents in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to pilot this program for employees based in their headquarters in Laurel, Maryland, expanding to other locations soon thereafter. This collaboration aims to demonstrate how these solutions can be used in large organizations and can enable the collection of valuable public health research data.

“WSSC Water was formed in 1918, during the last major pandemic to impact our nation,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “Thanks to our partnership with IBM and NIH, we are better positioned to leverage the latest technology to successfully respond to the current pandemic and enhance employee safety. Using a cloud-based tool instead of multiple paper processes will simplify our self-monitoring, reporting and contact tracing efforts – allowing our employees to spend more time focused on providing safe, seamless and satisfying water services to our customers.”

Specifically, an IBM Global Business Services team will deploy the use of IBM Digital Health Pass, a digital health passport platform designed to combine multiple dynamic data sources – such as test results and onsite temperature scans in combination with contact tracing technology designed to help mitigate risk, take action when needed and communicate effectively.  This will provide WSSC with verifiable health status, which can help them to make data-driven decisions while protecting health and personal identifiable information. 

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N91020C00036.

About NIH

About WSSC Water 

For more than 100 years, WSSC Water has proudly served the citizens of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties Maryland – providing drinking water that has always met strict Safe Drinking Water Act standards and protecting the environment through vital water resource recovery services. Today, more than 1,700 employees operate within a 1,000-square-mile service area with approximately 11,000 miles of water and sewer mains. Our vision is to be THE world-class water utility, where excellent products and services are always on tap.

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