GIS Health News Weekly: Animated Ebola Map, Addresses for Ebola, Esri and Ebola

Ebola Map, 8/8/14 HealthMapAnimated Ebola Map

Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard's HealthMap now includes an animated Ebola cases/death map. The map taps official sources, but also social media.

"The news reports and social media posts aren’t always reliable, but in general they provide an up-to-date sense of what’s happening,” said John Brownstein, co-founder of HealthMap and director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Informatics Program.

Newsweek suggests the map identified the outbreak nine days before the WHO announced it.

The website, which is run by a group of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital, noted a “mystery hemorrhagic fever” spreading in Guinea nine days before the WHO issued its first statement on the outbreak.

Addressing Ebola

Another one of those companies looking to provide global unique addresses (I summarized a few efforts last year) is tapping into the interest in tracking ebola to highlight its work.

Addressing Homes LLC is an organization created by AIMTEC (Aerial Imagery Mapping Technology), a technology company that has been developing geospatial technology since 2004 for the purpose of developing a single global addressing system to serve all nations and regions, worldwide. AIMTEC is the creator of the AimObserver™ device that uses the companies Mobile Mapper technology to instantly provide a unique and accurate latitude and longitude “address” to any location on Earth, down to an area as small as 8.8 feet. 

The work is with the government of Liberia. It's not clear that WHO is involved.

Where to Avoid Drinking the Water

Reddit is the source of so many maps (for better or worse). This week a Redditer (5thEye, post w/ comments) took Center for Disease Control data on where it recommends Americans avoid drinking tap water and related products (ice, ice tea, etc.) a map. The map shows red and green areas, which should be self explanatory. I'm heading to Israel later this year; the water is fine, but there are other safety issues.

Esri offers Ebola Story Map

Esri’s interactive Ebola Outbreaks story map enables users to explore the first known contact with the disease in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and every outbreak since then, including the ongoing crises in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Basic statistics about each outbreak and reports from different agencies are all directly available within the map.

GIS Support for the MSF Ebola Response in Guinea 2014 

GIS Support for the MSF Ebola Response in Guinea 2014 (pdf) is a July case study from Doctors Without Borders. The study notes the value of having a GIS officer in country:

Both field and headquarters staff interviewed for this case study emphasized that having a dedicated GIS officer in the field was a major asset that had a significant positive impact on the operation. Universally, interviewees identified two outputs as the most useful:

  • Localization: With the help of a newly created database and subsequently produced maps, the GIS officer was able to pinpoint the exact location of villages and identify villages that had the same name but were in different parts of the prefecture. Based on this information, MSF program staff were able to respond to the outbreak faster, in a more targeted way and with fewer resources.
  • Visualization: A weekly mapping of confirmed and suspected Ebola cases helped translate the progression of the epidemic from technical data into an easy-to-grasp map. As a result, staff at all levels had a better understanding of the emergency.

Published Friday, August 15th, 2014

Written by Adena Schutzberg


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