by Adele Waugaman
Could a mobile phone be a key tool in the prevention of disease outbreaks and epidemics? Judges on the Wall Street Journal’s Technology Innovation Awards panel believe so.
DataDyne.org, a core partner in the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation’s mHealth (mobile health) program, has just won the prestigious award in the Healthcare IT category. An article in today’s paper explains:
In developing countries, gathering and analyzing time-sensitive health-care information can be a challenge. Rural health clinics typically compile data only in paper records, making it difficult to spot and to respond quickly to emerging trends.
With EpiSurveyor, developed with support from the United Nations Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation, health officials can create health-survey forms that can be downloaded to commonly used mobile phones. Health workers carrying the phones can then collect information—about immunization rates, vaccine supplies or possible disease outbreaks—when they visit local clinics. The information can then be quickly analyzed to determine, say, whether medical supplies need to be restocked or to track the spread of a disease.
A key advantage of EpiSurveyor is its sustainability: the software is free and open source, meaning that country health officials can download health surveys and modify them to meet local needs. For example, last month Kenyan health officials adapted EpiSurveyor to help track and contain a polio outbreak in the northern Turkana district.
Although large-scale immunization efforts eliminated the last indigenous cases of polio in Kenya in 1984, recent inflows of refugees fleeing violence in neighbouring Sudan renewed the threat of a polio epidemic. Health workers in Kenya used a web-enabled version of EpiSurveyor to help track and contain these outbreaks. On the DataDyne blog, health worker Yusuf Ajack Ibrahim noted how immediate access to health data enabled health workers to refine their emergency vaccination campaign:
Weakness noted were acted upon immediately. Some of the actions taken were redistribution of the vaccines, on the job training for our health workers, staff redeployment, immediate case investigation of suspected AFP cases, and change of [the] social mobilization strategy.
The Foundations invested $2 million to support the development, piloting and subsequent expansion of DataDyne’s EpiSurveyor health data-gathering software for mobile devices. In partnership with the World Health Organization and national ministries of health, the Foundations are helping to bring to scale the EpiSurveyor mHealth program in over 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The new mHealth Alliance, announced earlier this year by the UN Foundation, Vodafone Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, will build on this effort by promoting thought leadership, global advocacy and public-private sector collaboration to help bring the smartest ideas in mHealth to scale around the globe.
This is cool:
The Maasai people of Laikipia in Kenya have received digital recording equipment, marking a milestone in a United Nations-backed pilot-project aimed at helping indigenous communities document and preserve their cultural heritage, the UN intellectual property agency announced today.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) handed over a digital camera, sound recording equipment and a laptop computer to Chief Kisio and other elders of the Maasai community at a formal ceremony attended by some 200 its members in late July.
The ceremony was a landmark event in the agency’s Creative Heritage Project, which provides indigenous communities with opportunities to digitally preserve expressions of their culture and traditions, as well as training in how to protect their intellectual property from unwanted exploitation.
Fresh off the BHTV presses is this absolutely fascinating discussion between Evgeny Morozov and Ethan Zuckerman about new media technologies, foreign policy and security. Both gentlemen are pioneers in this emerging field. Morozov is one of the only journalists covering this field and Zuckerman is the founder of Global Voices Online. This is a gem of a diavlog. In the clip below, they compare social media’s role in recent events in Iran and Urumqi, China. Enjoy.
A widespread and unusually resilient computer attack that began July 4 knocked out the Web sites of several government agencies, including some that are responsible for fighting cyber crime.
Suspected cyber assaults also paralyzed Web sites of major South Korean government agencies, banks and Internet sites in a barrage that appeared linked to the attacks in the U.S., South Korean officials said Wednesday.
The Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department Web sites were all down at varying points over the holiday weekend and into this week, according to officials inside and outside the government.
As we saw in the Russia-Georgia conflict, cyberspace is becoming the new global battlefield:
According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a cyberattack had coincided with a real war. But it will likely not be the last, said Bill Woodcock, the research director of Packet Clearing House, a nonprofit organization that tracks Internet traffic. He said cyberattacks are so inexpensive and easy to mount, with few fingerprints, that they will almost certainly remain a feature of modern warfare.
As far as the July 4th attack, North Korea appears to be the main suspect:
South Korean intelligence officials believe North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces in South Korea committed cyber attacks that paralyzed major South Korean and U.S. Web sites, a lawmaker’s aide said Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the National Intelligence Service told a group of South Korean lawmakers it believes that North Korea or North Korean sympathizers in the South “were behind” the attacks, according to an aide to one of the lawmakers briefed on the information.
You did not have arthritis of the spine. Your reputation as a “great warrior” is intact. How do we know? Nuclear power. Specifically:
The United Nations nuclear agency is using its expertise to help archaeologists unearth millennia-old secrets, from the supposed murder of King Tutankhamun to the mysterious death of Great Pharaoh Ramesses II, from Egyptian mummies.
Paleoradiology is a type of science using nuclear technologies – including x-rays and neutron activation analysis – to study artifacts, skeletons, mummies and fossils.
Oh. Science is pretty cool. And the IAEA is about more than just monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities (which, though important, is actually not the only place where the agency works).
(image from flickr user mharrsch under a Creative Commons license)
That’s the free number that Afghans can call for information about their upcoming elections. Set up by the UN team in the country, the number has become one of the most popular in Afghanistan:
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said today that some 25,000 Afghans call the Independent Election Commission (IEC) every week to get information on the 20 August presidential and provincial council elections.
Providing details on voter registration, polling place, and the election date, the hotline is one of those small, subtle ways that technology can further the UN’s — and Afghans’ — goals. The fact that operators sometimes receive threats from callers claiming to be part of the Taliban may make their job more dangerous, but it also underscores how important this service is to the growth of Afghan democracy.
(image from flickr user rybolov under a Creative Commons license)
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.