Containing Ebola with Big Data

By Gregory Pings, manager of Content Marketing for Xerox

It’s called “shoe-leather epidemiology,” a nearly-literal portrayal of how public health officials track people who are potentially exposed to a disease. It’s a play on a law enforcement term referring to detectives who literally wear down the soles of their shoes while canvassing for clues.

New technology, such as Maven Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Management Software, helps reduce this legwork for medical detectives. This offering from Consilience Software, A Xerox Company, streamlines the process of containing diseases before they become epidemics. It helped contain a food-borne illness outbreak in South Dakota. It is also being used by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to respond to Ebola in New York City.

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Two Articles Describe How Big Data Helps Contain Disease Outbreaks reports that the focus is on simplifying usability so the tools can be managed by public health professionals in the United States, regardless of their technological know-how. In the future, the software may also be available via mobile phones and tablets, and allow for citizen reporting. Read the full story, “Digital Detective Work: How Big Data Can Help Contain an Ebola Outbreak,” on Real Business.

Ideas Lab published a Q&A with Joy Alamgir, vice president and chief strategy officer at Consilience Software. Joy discusses technology’s role in containing disease outbreaks, and how data is used for containment.

“You have to manage a large amount of information and — most important — establish an electronic workflow to ensure things don’t fall through the cracks,” he points out in the interview. “For example, if you have 20 contacts and only one of them becomes infectious, you want to make sure someone doesn’t forget to follow up with that person because of a misplaced record.” The complete interview, “How Big Data Can Help Contain Ebola — Q&A with Joy Alamgir,” is available on Ideas Lab.

Ebola Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Information about Ebola is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website. Resources are available in shareable formats, including audio, video, infographics, fact sheets and more. A few notable examples:

How contact tracing works: This infographic shows how contact tracing can stop the Ebola outbreak in its tracks.

10 things to know about Ebola: This 3-minute video from the CDC shows the  top 10 things you really need to know about Ebola

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What to tell your children:How to Talk with Your Children about Ebola” offers practical guidance on how you can help children understand what’s happening in the United States and West Africa.

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