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