Hillel’s Tech Corner: Neura – Our future depends on us

So much will be said about the year 2020, but the emotion that best characterizes this year, I think, is hopelessness. Sorry to be all dark, but this virus, this pandemic is not showing any signs of slowing down. While we wait for that magical vaccine there has to be something we can do, as a species, to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to better manage the global crisis.

That is the premise of an Israeli company called Neura. Neura developed a technology that helps policymakers, health organizations and decision makers navigate the coronavirus pandemic. By merging epidemiological and behavior data, Neura built algorithms to accurately predict future hot spots, and, for the first time, this company is enabling municipalities with tools to get ahead of the COVID-19 spread. In other words, Neura is giving us some hope.

With the use of this technology, policy makers can get visibility into where scarce resources need to be deployed, communication enhanced and guidelines enforced to cut the chain of infection and flatten the curve.

Neura empowers organizations to drive strategic, data-driven decisions based on large scale human behavior and activity signals. Its Behavior Intelligence Platform transforms vast amounts of anonymous data into actionable and impactful insights based on population behavior.

In the beginning of the pandemic, I heard from many investors and entrepreneurs about companies that are repurposing their technology to address COVID-19. In other words, these are companies with otherwise “regular” tech that now realized they can do some good in the war against coronavirus. Neura is one such company.

The actionable insights enable policymakers to act on a number of strategic fronts to flatten the pandemic’s spread and safely reopen the economy, allowing for the health and safety of the population to be balanced with economic growth. They can specifically target infection hot spots by deploying resources in areas where transmission occurs most frequently while also being selective, applying restrictive measures in neighborhoods or even on the building level. Neura’s technology provides insights into hot spots and future areas where the virus will spread in the near future.

Neura was founded in 2013 by Ori Shaashua, Triinu Magi, and Gil Mahler, and now employs 25 people. The CEO is Amit Hammer, who previously led several IoT connectivity businesses for Texas Instruments Inc. Prior to that he served as an officer at the R&D department of the intelligence corps of the IDF.

The founders of Neura came to a realization in 2012 that massive amounts of data being made publicly available had unleashed potential in transforming the decision-making process for all industries. Neura was born out of the understanding that by leveraging this behavioral data, they could help us fluidly live our lives more effortlessly and efficiently. By providing actionable insights to municipalities, health organizations, businesses and the like, It could help the population live better, more supported lives.

They set out to build an algorithm to transform large-scale behavioral data into actionable insights, discovering the vast potential in large scale human behavior data and its ability to impact many types of businesses and organizations. They then set out to turn it into a platform driven by an engine that supports consumer experiences in smart cities, mobility, health, and marketing.

Today Neura’s Behavioral Intelligence platform enables the strategic decision-making processes in various capacities of multiple sectors.

The company has raised $32m. in Seed, A and B rounds led by Pitango Venture Capital and Liberty Media, as well as OurCrowd.

Today, Neura partners with several industry leaders such as Microsoft, Salesforce, HY Labs (the main provider of COVID-19 tests solutions in Israel) Amdocs, Kayma, health and government organizations. They are also partnering with Tripadvisor to help the community.

Neura leverages machine learning to help decision makers deploy their resources in the most impactful way and reopen the economy gradually, allowing for the balance of the populations health and safety with economic growth.

For traditional use cases, Neura uses its insights to support businesses and local governments helping them make data driven decisions. For example – insurance companies use it to make decisions regarding their policies, the Transportation Ministry leverages Neura to plan public transportation enhancements, infrastructure companies use the insights to decide where to build a new highway interchange, and Telcos around the world utilize this platform to make better products to answer the needs of their consumers.

Based on the IP Neura developed in behavioral intelligence, the company has built a new set of signals to monitor and analyze the spread of coronavirus. Signals include encounter rates, behavioral super-spreaders, social distancing adherence, and population density, to name a few, used to specifically understand and monitor the spread of coronavirus.

The Neura team makes these leading indicators available for decision makers, local governments and health organizations, enabling them to become proactive, as they can now act on indicators that are informed and ahead of COVID-19 outbreaks. In addition, by targeting high infection areas and at risk locations, they can prioritize their resources, deploy them where and when transmission happens, and do so in the most precise way that balances between public safety and the economy.

Neura’s team believes that the applications they have created to fight COVID-19 will continue to be relevant after COVID-19. They created three products that are built off the technology: ViruScore, the first COVID-19 predictive pool testing solution enabling a six-fold increase in testing capacity; ViruSafe, a tool that indicates the level of safety on a building level for retail establishments to provide consumer confidence and the Behavioral Insights platform, which provides all data and actionable dashboards for tackling the coronavirus spread.

In addition to monitoring and controlling the spread of the pandemic, behavioral intelligence is becoming increasingly relevant to many areas of our life, and understanding human behavior, as well as influencing human behavior.

As far as 2020 is concerned, the sooner we all realize that our behavior and adherence to guidelines have a tangible impact on the spread of the virus, the sooner hopelessness will turn into optimism. By analyzing behavioral data at scale, Neura is helping us all come to the realization that the spread of COVID-19 is largely in our hands.

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