New Setallite Technology Keeps Track Of Ebola Spread in West Africa

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Amidst the rising reports of new Ebola outbreak cases in Guinea and Sierra Leone, OpenStreetMap Team is now providing aid workers with an interactive map to help keep track of the disease’s spread and updates.

A recent WHO reports indicates that between 29 May and 1 June 2014, there were at least 21 Ebola-related deaths reported with 37 new cases emerging bringing a total of 328 cases and 208 deaths. Sierra Leone on the other hand witnessed an rise of 13 new cases suspected to be Ebola. While it is a priority for health workers to deliver appropriate aid in the most effective way, this new HOT interactive map gives details about the prevelance of Ebola in West Africa.

According to Ivan Gaten, The Geographical Information Systems Technological advisor of Doctors Without Boarders UK, we see transformations that are happening on their own as a result of transformative technologies and we can influence them in the right direction. One example noted in that accord is using a newly improved satellite map that helps locate not just buildings and streets as Google maps do, but help track information on diseases like Ebola prevalence.

Some 160 years ago, John Snow is known to have developed the use of maps. But with the advent of technology such as the use of satellite maps, this Geographical Information Systems computer map is now used to capture and analyse data. While it shows more than where houses and streets are, it shows which neighborhoods have the most cases of Ebola to the least.

The value of the map, note designers is that it is interactive and links back to the original source such as that of unconfirmed Ebola cases which can be researched on in detail. Looking at the map, all icons represent details on information that have been picked up by sources such as the Red Cross, French volunteers, healthcare providers, health centres, newspaper cuttings to mention a few.

The map also indicates a presence of doctors and centers and where to locate them. Each coloured icon corresponds to something such as a newspaper report. The green icons on the map represent the medics, the black icons represent deaths and new Ebola cases, while the purple icons represent Ebola related news stories.

The maps are not only multilayer and interactive, but can also be transformed for investigative context, viewed from a different perspective.

However, challenge lies on the fact that it lacks ample imagery, note the designers, of which in future plan to install, as they ensure the map is open source noting that once the map is created, the best way to tackle the information is to keep maps and data as open source.



about HOT interactive two experts discuss how satellite technology and open-source mapping can help with such humanitarian work, highlighting successes and challenges.




Between May 29 and June 1, Guinea recorded 37 new cases and 21 deaths due to the Ebola virus, which has brought the total to 328 cases (193 laboratory-confirmed) and 208 deaths. Additionally, Sierra Leone witnessed an increase of 13 new cases, but only three have been laboratory-confirmed.


Last week, 5 June, aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières reported new cases in the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The priority for NGOs and health workers is to deliver appropriate aid in the fastest and most effective way. To do so, it is vital to have a clear picture of the area affected by Ebola and relevant trends.

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One encouraging example is a programme coordinated by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT). It has provided aid workers with an interactive map to help them keep track of the disease’s spread and of news related to the outbreaks. The collaborative map displays publicly available data and other resources that can be read or downloaded.

Explore the official HOT interactive map below to find out more about the spread of Ebola in West Africa, the local conflicts surrounding it and what aid organisations are doing to help.

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