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Published: 2017-06-22

"Hackfest" gathers experts to develop data program that can predict epidemics

NEWS On 20–22 June, international experts on mosquito-borne diseases from WHO and Umeå University and elsewhere met with software developers from Microsoft to further advance early warnings and response systems for mosquito-borne epidemics. The goal of the three-day meetup is to develop a decision-making dashboard solution that helps health organisations to proactively meet the threat of future outbreaks of Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.

“We have invited public health experts, epidemiologists, climate researchers, programmers and experts on data streaming to further develop an early warnings and response system for outbreaks of viral diseases spread by Aedes mosquitos. By gathering this group of leading experts, we hope to develop an integrated platform and a tailored dashboard,” says Joacim Rocklöv, research leader at the Unit of Epidemiology and Global Health, and the Umeå Centre for Global Health Research at Umeå University.

The objective with the meeting is to create a tool that, by presenting information in an easily comprehensible way, supports and informs decision-makers in healthcare to make the correct decisions on measures, at the right time. The dashboard tool will analyse streaming data on a number of disease transmission indicators based upon social media data, human mobility, weather and climate data, mosquito data and health data. Users of the tool should also be able to adjust algorithms and add datasets depending on variable or place-specific conditions.

Joacim Rocklöv
Foto: Mattias Pettersson

“We would like to develop a user-friendly forecasting tool with a dashboard that in an accessible way predict epidemic risk in an area even before an outbreak materializes. Most of all, we’d like the tool to help change measures from being reactive into being proactive. In the long-term, we hope that this kind of forecasting tool can be useful for epidemic risk assessment around other diseases as well,” says Joacim Rocklöv.

Link to a prototype of the dashboard

At Umeå University, the Umeå Center for Global Health Research, Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) and Umeå Center for Microbial Research (UCMR) are also involved in this cooperation with WHO/TDR and Microsoft.

Hackfest list of participants:

  • Axel Kroeger, WHO/TDR, University of Freiburg
  • Beat Schwegler, Microsoft
  • Sachin Kundu, Microsoft
  • Joacim Rocklöv, Umeå University
  • Max Petzold, Sahlgrenska Academy
  • Jing Helmersson, Umeå University
  • Laith Hussain, Sahlgrenska Academy
  • Sewe Maquins, Umeå University
  • Balvinder Singh Gill, Ministry of Health, Malaysia
  • David Benitez, Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Yesim Tozan, New York University

For more information, please contact:

Joacim Rocklöv, Unit of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå UniversityPhone: +46 70-636 16 35
Email: joacim.rocklov@umu.se

Editor: Anna Lawrence