Smartphone Data Used to Suppress Dengue Epidemic in Pakistan


Following a historic dengue fever outbreak in Pakistan last year, government officials this year employ a new tracking system, rooted in sophisticated algorithms that monitor nationwide internet search terms, smartphone location data, and hospital reported key indicators to make epidemic predictions for regional target areas requiring on the ground mosquito larvae extermination.

The project was headed by Umar Saif, a recipient of the MIT Innovators Under 35 award in 2011. Previously, Saif worked with Google to develop Flubreaks, a system that analyzed inbound search trends on Google to provide regionalized early warning indicators of epidemics.

By building on the knowledgebase developed at Google, Saif has created an infrastructure that has successfully guided, via 1,500 Android smartphones, targeted mosquito fumigation across Pakistan to contain dengue fever and minimize potential for transmission. In 2011, there were more than 16,000 confirmed cases of dengue and 352 deaths in Pakistan. In 2012, total confirmed cases dropped to 234 and there were no reported dengue fever related deaths.

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