CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – A team of more than 200 volunteers have banded together and are hoping to help Colorado find unique solutions to common problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Jared Polis has assembled the Innovation Response Team made up of tech entrepreneurs to look at issues from outside-the-box.
“It’s a new approach that Gov. Polis had to solve really emerging and challenging problems around coronavirus. And one of our big missions is to harness the power and speed of the private sector in service of Coloradans,” said Sarah Tuneberg, the Colorado Coronavirus Innovation Response Team Lead.
Tuneberg was working at her startup that specializes in using data for emergency management. She has stepped away from the project to help Colorado.
“In times of crisis, when leadership calls you say ‘yes.’ And I think a lot of people in Colorado are having that experience,” Tuenberg said. “We have a bunch of amazing partners who have reached out. So my job is to do a lot of liaising. I work internal to the Emergency Operation Center. It’s really about being nimble and innovative and empowering all of this incredible stuff to be working.”
The IRT has helped Colorado change their mission, like a company in Parker that now mass produces hand sanitizer, or a company in Greeley that now makes face shields for front line health care workers. The teams is also looking to see how feasible new technology like 3D printed masks and ventilator accessories are in everyday use.
“It is all hand on virtual deck, very clean hands, in a very virtual deck. We need to be using innovation and new ideas to solve this solution. Traditional solutions aren’t going to work, full stop,” Tuneber said.
Two hundred and fifty software engineers have volunteered their time to see how technology and data can find new answers.
“We’re also working as fast as we can to bring the infection rate down. Really fast thinking and a lot of collaboration, virtual collaboration, we can get some ideas that have legs and ideas that get us out of this problem,” Tuneberg said.
Companies or individuals who think they can help can apply to be part of the IRT at https://covrn.com/#Join-Innovation-response-team.