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NIOSH Announces Competition for Artificial Intelligence Programmers

October 24, 2019
NIOSH Update:

MEDIA CONTACT: Nura Sadeghpour, , 202.245.0673

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The future holds much promise. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently announced the start of an external crowdsourcing competition, exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate data processing in occupational safety and health surveillance systems. The competition is open to all AI programmers and will run until November 21, 2019.

Currently, whenever an employee is injured at work, an explanation of how the injury occurred is recorded by a person using free-text narratives, or rather, free form. For decades, humans have then read these injury narratives and assigned codes to classify the injuries, often large volumes of information, which has resulted in time, cost and the risk of human error influencing occupational safety and health data.

Through an interagency agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Tournament Lab, NIOSH is working with vendor TopCoder to host this online competition, asking programmers to compete in the development of an algorithm that will best employ the use of AI in automatically reading injury records and classifying them according to the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS).

“We’re thrilled to be hosting this competition along with our partners,” says lead NIOSH project officer Carlos Siordia, PhD. “Not only do these partnerships help support our extramural crowdsourcing AI competition, but they can also support others at CDC who want to crowdsource software programming to come up with the most innovative and efficient solutions to improve public health.”

On the shoulders of hosting an internal crowdsourcing competition in the spring of 2019 for AI programmers across CDC, the NIOSH team of researchers, nicknamed “BrainGineers,” are now opening the algorithm competition up to external programmers. The winning algorithm from the intramural competition will serve as the baseline for external competitors to beat.

To find out more about the challenge or to register for this programming opportunity, please visit:

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit