Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
October, 27th 2014
0:01
 

BigDatavsEbolaBy Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

On Aug. 5, a group of open data mavens and government officials from Africa gathered in Washington, D.C., to launch an initiative called Africa Open Data. The goal was to help African countries tap open data as a means of addressing health, infrastructure and economic challenges. In a shocking turn of events, members of the Sierra Leone delegation simultaneously received text messages alerting them that their flight back home had been canceled due to the rapid spread of Ebola. Suddenly, they were citizens cut off from their country.

“They had looks on their faces of total panic, fear and trauma,” recounts Steven Adler, IBM’s open data evangelist and an organizer of the the event. On the spot, Steve and other participants started brainstorming ways they–and data–could help . They banged around ideas and began emailing and texting friends and associates they thought could lend a hand.

Steven Adler, IBM open data evangelist

Steven Adler, IBM open data evangelist

Like a pebble dropped in a lake, ripples from that event have spread around the world.

For one thing, it prompted Steve and others to immediately launch a new initiative, the Ebola Open Data Repository, aimed at gathering and cataloging data that might be useful to relief organizations, government agencies and policy makers who are grappling with the Ebola epidemic.

In parallel, our IBM Research Lab in Africa began collaborating with Sierra Leone’s Open Data Initiative, Cambridge University’s Data Voices project and local wireless telecom carriers to in a matter of days create s system for the government to engage directly with citizens about the crisis via sms or voice calls.

Countless similar grassroots, volunteer efforts have sprung up around the world–animated by a belief that a combination of open data, analytics software, crowdsourcing, and the willingness to collaborate across traditional boundaries can make a difference. People involved recognize that in the midst of this fast-moving crisis, traditional methods for solving problems can’t move fast enough. Sometimes you have to throw the world’s experts and its data together and try to get things done.

“The use of data and more importantly open data has now become an important tool for a national, regional and global understanding about the stakes in an effort to prompt the Ebola discourse towards a more strategic and rational response,” says Yeama Thompson, a member of Sierra Leone’s Right to Access Information Commission.

“Data can be a powerful resource for managing and mitigating epidemics,” says Jeanne Holm, evangelist for America’s Data.Gov initiative. “Governments and other organizations have valuable open data that could help in relief efforts – about roads, airports, schools, medical facilities and populations. Such information can help to drive data-driven decisions during times of uncertainty.”

Jeanne was one of the organizers, along with IBM’s Steve Adler, of an Ebola Open Data brainstorming session that was held in New York City on Oct. 18. There, about 100 people in the room and 100  more who joined virtually listened to health experts talk about the status of the Ebola epidemic and then divided up into working groups to develop solutions. A group in the West Bank of Israel set up a “satellite” brainstorming session.

Saska Mojsilovic, Scientist, IBM Research

Saska Mojsilovic, Scientist, IBM Research

For a first-hand account of the meeting, listen to IBM Researcher Saska Mojsilovic’s podcast.

If you want to contribute to the project or use the data and tools, go to the project Web site.

The breakout groups didn’t just talk about solutions; on the spot, the volunteers started gathering data sources and building the catalog for the repository. Using the open source data management tool DKAN, they made it easy for people to find and compare related data from diverse sources.

One of those sources was a Web site set up just weeks before by a graduate student in computational epidemiology at Virginia Tech, Caitlin Rivers. She’s associated with an institute there, the Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, which is under contract with the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes for Health to develop computer models for the spread of infectious diseases. Starting in early July, they began issuing weekly forecasts of the spread of the disease in West Africa. They organized a week-long hackathon starting Oct. 10 bringing together students and faculty to come up with ideas for dealing with Ebola.

Caitlin pitched in by setting up a GitHub Web site for gathering data and published blog posts about finding solutions to the crisis. “A lot of people would like to help fight Ebola, but they’re not sure how to do it,” she says. “We hit a nerve. We showed them how to mobilize and put their own resources to use.”

Social networking plays a crucial role in the life of these grassroots Ebola-fighting initiatives. The software tools not only help connect people to data but they connect people to people with overlapping interests and areas of expertise. Caitlin’s data fed into the Ebola Open Data Repository, and she, herself, has plugged into another Ebola-related initiative, the Ebola Modelling Community call, which was launched by IBM scientists at the IBM Research – Almaden, our lab in San Jose, California.

The call, which takes place every Wednesday,  is designed for researchers studying Ebola epidemiology and modeling. Mathematical models of Ebola are designed to produce accurate predictions of the path of the disease. Healthcare organizations and policy makers can use them to decide what actions to take. For instance, according to James Kaufman, the IBM Research scientists that organized the Ebola calls, health authorities can decide where to focus their limited resources based on assessments of their results.

Using a technology framework called STEM (for Spatio Temporal Epidemiological Modeler), Kaufman’s team has created an open-source global model for Ebola. Some of their findings are quite alarming. “Ebola is evolving right now at the rate of influenza or a little faster,” James says. “It’s adapting to human cells and human to human transmission. So we’re seeing the birth of a new human disease that may never go away.”

While large organizations and academic institutions are taking the lead in the grassroots Ebola campaign, there’s a role for startups as well. In fact it was Alexander Jones, the co-founder of a brand new company, Operon Labs, in Philadelphia, who created the first Ebola model using STEM–just a few weeks ago. Jones, a former NIH scientist, is developing a business around big data ontology–which has potential to be useful in drug design and gene therapy. But his  Ebola model was a volunteer effort.

He’s a strong believer in grassroots open data projects to solve critical, time-sensitive problems. “This a way to bypass the formal channels, where it might take months or longer to resolve a debate,” he says. “Here, scientists from different labs can speak directly to each other, and give each other immediate feedback.” Instead of taking months to resolve a debate, it can be done in near real time.

Are these projects really helping? The groups are sharing their data and insights with healthcare officials in Africa, Europe and the United States. But it’s too early to tell how useful they will be.

The sustainability of these grassroots  projects is questionable as well. Frequently, groups of people pull together as volunteers to address a critical problem, but, since they have day jobs, sometimes their projects lose moment and don’t deliver the results they had hoped. The Ebola Open Data Repository project, for instance, needs people to identify and gather a lot more data sources, according to Rich Robbins, of Upper West Strategies, one of its organizers. And it needs curators and project managers to organize and move things ahead. “We need people who have the clout and the resources and connections to people who are directly involved so the group can help in a tangible way,” Rich says.

Any volunteers? Click here.
___________________________________

Follow IBM Smarter Planet on Google+

Bookmark and Share

Previous post

Next post

24 Comments
 
June 21, 2016
4:28 am

This could be very helpful. Great article as usual


Posted by: tabby
 
June 20, 2016
2:48 am

good Snapchat users will be posting activities they make an effort in purchase to accomplish fresh mystical trophies. However, none of them of the pursuing activities gained fresh Snapchat Trophies:great.


Posted by: snapchattrophiess
 
June 10, 2016
5:57 am

It looks really good!


Posted by: Alice Ngigi
 
June 10, 2016
5:52 am

This was a really wonderful article.


Posted by: Alice Ngigi
 
June 10, 2016
5:51 am

Excellent work!


Posted by: Alice Ngigi
 
June 10, 2016
5:41 am

Good piece.


Posted by: Alice Ngigi
 
June 10, 2016
5:41 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Posted by: Alice Ngigi
 
June 10, 2016
5:40 am

What a research!


Posted by: Alice Ngigi
 
May 27, 2016
8:37 am

good Right now, move to configurations on your snapchat software house display and switch “filtration systems on.”nice.


Posted by: snapchat filters for ipad
 
March 27, 2016
7:57 pm

Awesome issues here. I am very happy to see your article. Thanks a lot and I am having a look
forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?


Posted by: bookofexperience.com
 
March 25, 2016
5:51 am
March 6, 2016
6:44 pm

kalimera
Sehr gerne stehe ich Ihnen für ein persönliches Beratungsgespräch
zur Verfügung.


Posted by: femmestyle
 
October 30, 2015
7:11 pm

You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the internet.
I’m going to recommend this site!


Posted by: Solicitar un mini credito estando en asnef entoru
 
October 1, 2015
6:23 am

Ничего себе, что было странно, .
Я просто написал чрезвычайно, но
после того как я нажал представить мой
комментарий не показать. Grrrr …
ну я не пишу все, что снова и снова.
Во всяком случае, просто хотел сказать большое блог!


Posted by: Моментальные займы через интернет
 
June 26, 2015
11:06 pm

My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site.
He was entirely right. This put up actually made my day.
You can not consider just how much time I had spent for this information!
Thanks!


Posted by: brick effect tiles
 
May 15, 2015
8:21 am

Thanks for the good writeup. It actually was a amusement account it.

Look complex to far delivered agreeable from you!
By the way, how could we communicate?


Posted by: brick tiles
 
January 21, 2015
2:17 pm

Nice info given by you guys.


Posted by: manzarm
 
January 20, 2015
3:05 pm

Ebola will only be stopped once the world collaborates on a single solution.


Posted by: David Morris
 
November 26, 2014
11:00 am

Great weblog here! Also your website so much up very fast!
What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting
your associate hyperlink on your host? I want my website loaded up as quickly as
yours lol


Posted by: health tips
 
October 30, 2014
10:43 am

Mere thinking fails us. BEing Aware attracts Existential Life Energies generating Substance beyond our lack of Collective human Character !!!


Posted by: Norm Abbott
 
October 28, 2014
8:23 am

Great. But I think we shouldn’t fear Ebola. Check the article http://www.flamingopink.com.au/2014/10/shouldnt-fear-ebola/


Posted by: Debashish Das
 
October 27, 2014
5:38 pm

J.A.
I like the bat video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ao0dqJvH4a0


Posted by: Steve Hamm
 
October 27, 2014
10:35 am

“Ebola is evolving right now at the rate of influenza or a little faster,” Quite typical thing for single-stranded RNA-coded cirus (Stephen K. Gire et all 2014). In silico research are very diffcult part of science, hardest part for this is meathematical (by means of equations) description of changes and variability of influence on virus itself. Model will be as good ad equations that are describing it. There comes another nice thing – in mathematics when we put the same data into equation we get the same resoults (without any *randomize* option). But in nature … we don’t even know how to put the same data … As we know even Brownian motion may have influence. What is most interesting this model maybe a part of eveolution research. On nucleotide level – evelution may be called a mistake in replication whith was not corrcted. Quite nice information – hope i will se a good publication in Science or Nature ?


Posted by: JacekP
 
October 27, 2014
9:18 am

Hello Steve – I don’t know if you remember me from BusienssWeek days, but I wrote a lot about emerging infectious diseases. The application of Big Data is fabulous, but until it goes deeply into the wildlife health / environmental health angles, its use is primarily going to be triage rather than prevention. Not only will there be other Ebola outbreaks, but also new, previously unknown plagues.

The medical community has a self-imposed blinder on zoonosis, defining it as an animal disease that gets into humans. Well, humans are animals and the majority of diseases are zoonotic, so it’s the rule, not the exception. Also, over the last 40 years a number of “human” diseases have jumped into other species with disastrous results. If we don’t start looking for the big picture and connections, we’e going to just keep missing them. The connections arc not just biologically, but politically, socially, economically, historically.

In response to something our former colleague Adam Aston posted on Facebook, I ended up writing a big tip-sheet style blog post. Part of it morphed into a piece for the Guardian. It’s now dated, yet still a little prescient. http://trackernewsdots.tumblr.com/post/98742553114/ebola


Posted by: J. A. Ginsburg
 
11 Trackbacks
 
December 21, 2014
9:31 am

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation - Trendingnewsz.com
 
December 20, 2014
4:44 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation | AkimoLux.com
 
December 20, 2014
4:30 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation - Magng
 
December 20, 2014
3:31 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation * The New World
 
December 20, 2014
3:12 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: Ceiba3D Studio | How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation
 
December 20, 2014
3:11 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation | PJ Tec - Latest Tech News | PJ Tec - Latest Tech News
 
December 20, 2014
3:11 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation « Malaysia Daily News
 
December 20, 2014
3:03 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: Editor’s note: Anne Altman is the general manager of IBM U.S. Federal and Government Industries. Applications that simply deliver information can be use...| iKenya News: Kenya News Now, Kenya News Today
 
December 20, 2014
3:02 pm

[…] open data and mobile technology to use, IBM recently announced a humanitarian initiative with the government of Sierra Leone to use SMS and voice calls with a citizen and engagement and […]


Posted by: How Mobile And Social Feeds Government’s Appetite For Innovation | TechCrunch
 
October 29, 2014
2:12 am

[…] via How Big Data Can Help Beat Ebola « A Smarter Planet Blog A Smarter Planet Blog. […]


Posted by: How Big Data Can Help Beat Ebola | eSoftix
 
October 27, 2014
10:14 am

[…] How Big Data Can Help Beat Ebola […]


Posted by: IBM Corporate Citizenship Drives Humanitarian Efforts to Fight Ebola | Citizen IBM Blog
 
Post a Comment