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Satellite Technology Being Used To Track The Spread Of Ebola In West Africa

by Milicent Atieno

Satellite Technology Being Used To Track The Spread Of Ebola In West Africa

There are increasing reports on the incidences of death related to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone and Guinea. In an attempt to better improve humanitarian assistance to the region, OpenStreetMap Team has begun giving aid workers in the region an interactive map assistance to help them keep track of the spread of the disease.

World Health Organization (WHO) recently tabled a report that stated between May 29th to June 1st, 2014 at least 21 deaths related to Ebola were reported. The emerging cases totalled 37 making a grand total of 328 cases and 208 deaths. Taking a look at Sierra Leone exclusively, there have been reported cases of 13 new Ebola-related cases.

It remains a priority for health works to supply medical aid and attention to the affected areas, but with technology they can do this in the most effective way possible. The maps provide health workers with the most interactive and detailed latest information on West Africa’s Ebola disease prevalence.

We see transformations that are happening on their own, as a result, of transformative technologies and we can influence them in the right direction. One example noted in that accord is using newly improved satellite map that helps locate not just building and streets as Google maps do, but help track information on diseases like Ebola prevalence.” Said Ivan Gaten, the Geographical Information Systems Technological advisor of Doctors Without Borders UK.

Technology helps in the sense that, using satellite maps in coming up with Geographical Information Systems and using computer maps to capture and analyse the data. Health workers can know not only where the houses and streets are, but also can know the neighbourhoods from the highest reported cases of Ebola diseases to those with the least cases. The designers of the map have made it to be interactive and helpful enough that the maps provide health workers links back to the original source, like the reported but unconfirmed Ebola cases that can hence be researched on exhaustively.

All the icons on the map below represent detailed information on what has been picked up by various sources that include the Red Cross, French volunteers, newspaper cuttings, healthcare providers and health centres among others. The map also shows the presence of doctors and health facilities so they can be easily located. The green icons on the map represent medics, black icons represent new Ebola cases and deaths, while the purple icons represents new stories related to Ebola.

Satellite Technology Being Used To Track The Spread Of Ebola In West Africa

Not only are the maps multilayer and interactive, but also, they are can be transformed for purposes of investigations and viewed from a totally different perspective. Nonetheless, the maps face some challenges, one of which is that it doesn’t have ample imagery, but the designers are working to install this in the future. The map is open source and the designers say once they have fully created it, they will maintain the maps and data as open source since they believe that this is the best way to tackle information.

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