IBM combating Ebola by launching a tracking system

In order to curb the spread of deadly Ebola virus, IBM has launched several initiatives. The important donation of IBM Connections technology in Nigeria will strengthen the Lagos State government's preparedness for future disease outbreaks.

IBM will make their contribution in the form of their super-computing data crunching capabilities over in Sierra Leone, where this particular system would enable citizens to make reports of Ebola-related issues.

Citizen Engagement in Sierra Leone IBM's new Africa research lab, in collaboration with Sierra Leone's Open Government Initiative, has developed a system that enables citizens to report their Ebola-related concerns via SMS or voice calls that are location-specific. The data will then be analyzed to identify correlations and highlight issues.

The main goal is to create a cloud-based Ebola Open Data Repository which will provide governments, aid agencies and researchers with free and open access to valuable open data related to Ebola.

Khadija Sesay, Director of Sierra Leone's Open Government Initiative said, "IBM has enhanced our work on citizen engagement through the use of innovative technology and opened up an effective communication channel with the general public so that we can learn from their input and create actionable policies in the fight against Ebola".

The general public are being alerted to the programme via radio broadcasts with local telecoms provider Airtel setting up a free number to relay the alerts.

The SMS data is anonymized by Kenyan start-up Echo mobile which specializes in leveraging basic mobile phones to give voice to underserved communities.

Currently, IBM is looking forward to extend the work to analyze mobile phone signal data in order to monitor and track population movement enabling scientists to map and predict the spread of disease.

Previously, IBM has also provided similar technology in other crisis situations around the world. In 2010, SmartCloud supported a post-Haiti quake effort called Colleagues in Care, which helped doctors in Haiti learn from doctors in the US and elsewhere.