IBM to launch mobile health-tracking initiative to track Ebola


By relying on its supercomputers’ brain power, IBM is going on a mission to help track Ebola as well as government-related issues in Sierra Leone — the country currently most affected by the disease.

The BBC reports that citizens can use SMS or voice calls to map out the virus and prevent it from spreading. IBM’s systems would then be able to efficiently curate this data.

Scheduled radio broadcasts are set to encourage people while the country’s major telecom operator Airtel has set up a free number which citizens can use to send text messages.

It’s estimated that Sierra Leone — which has a population of just under 6 million — has a mobile penetration rate of 38%.

“Using mobile technology, we have given them a voice and a channel to communicate their experiences directly to the government,” explains Dr Uyi Stewart, chief scientist of IBM Research in Africa.

“We saw the need to quickly develop a system to enable communities directly affected by Ebola to provide valuable insight about how to fight it,” says Stewart.

This news comes right after IBM announced the implementation of the first commercial application of the Watson supercomputer in Africa. More specifically, South Africa’s Metropolitan Health will thus rely on IBM’s technology to enhance service-delivery and health advisory services in the country.

IBM joins the rank of many other well-known names — such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — which has recently pledged resources in the fight against the disease.



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