The Center of Complex Interventions is a nonprofit organization that specializes in applied scientific research. CCI works with policymakers, local and regional governments, researchers, companies, and community organizations, tapping into interdisciplinary research areas and professional expertise to design customized tools, plans, and interventions. Current work focuses on public health, climate change, and open source data and mapping tools.
Public health as a complex system
The small city of Chelsea, Massachusetts had one of the highest COVID-19 transmission rates in New England in the summer of 2020. Many factors contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in Chelsea including overcrowded living conditions, a high proportion of residents working in essential jobs, and misinformation about COVID-19 and testing. Recognizing that the problem was beyond the expertise of any one group, the Center of Complex Interventions launched the Chelsea Project: a collaborative task force of researchers and scientists, community organizers, and local government departments working to pinpoint the specific pain points in Chelsea’s public health crisis, and design and implement a multi-pronged plan to address them.
The Chelsea Project has grown into an ongoing collaborative effort that includes government entities in Chelsea, local nonprofits, and startups that have partnered to deploy three different interventions: city-wide wastewater analysis, targeted PCR testing, and a community-led communications strategy. The unique combination of these interventions helped increase both testing and vaccination rates in Chelsea, which now has one of the highest vaccination rates among cities with comparable demographics in the U.S.
Watch the Chelsea Project video: https://youtu.be/nDxI7XkgS94
Read our white paper:
The Chelsea Project: How an adaptive, multidisciplinary approach brought COVID-19 numbers from among the nation’s highest to among the nation’s lowest in Chelsea, MA
Current and next steps
Following the early success of the Chelsea Project, CCI began work on the Chelsea Policy Simulator: an effort to build a simulation tool that will help decision-makers in Chelsea learn how different policy decisions during the pandemic may have resulted in different public health outcomes. The goal of the project is to help the city plan for future pandemics and other emergencies as well as provide the city with data to support requests for more resources from the federal government. CCI aims to adapt the Policy Simulator for use in other cities and communities.
CCI is also currently working on a rapid-testing research study focused on vulnerable populations in Chelsea, part of an FDA Foundation grant in collaboration with IDx20.