Optimising self-organised volunteer efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Anping Zhang*, Ke Zhang*, Wanda Li, Yue Wang, Yang Li, Lin Zhang

email: yangli@sz.tsinghua.edu.cn     * These authors contributed equally

Crowdsource volunteering efforts have contributed significantly to pandemic response and recovery during the COVID-19 outbreak. In such efforts, individual volunteers can collaborate to achieve rapid mobilisation toward emergent community demands. In this study, we quantitively study this phenomenon using the concept of self-organisation, by proposing a data-driven framework to investigate when and how self-organisation emerged during the pandemic response and how it relates to effectiveness of volunteer organisations in general. Using activity data collected from a mobile volunteer platform in Shenzhen ('Anti-Pandemic Pioneers'), China, we found that volunteers' task participation and social and task preferences show multiple phases of self-organisation in response to changing epidemic situations and centralised interventions. Simulation experiments further show that the self-organised volunteer system can become more responsive and more robust in the face of uncertain community demands with minimal centralised guidance.

        title={Optimising self-organised volunteer efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic},
        author={Zhang, Anping and Zhang, Ke and Li, Wanda and Wang, Yue and Li, Yang and Zhang, Lin},
        journal={Humanities and Social Sciences Communications},

Self-organized Volunteer Behavior During the COVID-19 Outbreak in Shenzhen

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Self-organised volunteer behaviour during the COVID-19 outbreak in Shenzhen

Click the following dropdown buttons to visualize details in Shenzhen and its districts.

Simulation of Volunteers' Task Selection Behavior

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Schematic diagram of a simplified version 3-by-3 grid simulation

Data and Code