Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early warning system for epidemics: Risk map correlates environmental, health data

Date:
February 21, 2014
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
The environment has an impact on our health. Preventing epidemics relies on activating the right counter-measures, and scientists are now trying to find out how better use of forecasting can help. The EU’s EO2HEAVEN project developed a risk map for correlating environmental and health data in order to identify where a disease may break out next.

The EU’s EO2HEAVEN project developed a hazard map for correlating environmental and health data in order to identify where disease may break out next.
Credit: © Fraunhofer IOSB

The environment has an impact on our health. Preventing epidemics relies on activating the right counter-measures, and scientists are now trying to find out how better use of forecasting can help. The EU's EO2HEAVEN project developed a risk map for correlating environmental and health data in order to identify where a disease may break out next. The concept will be on show at Booth E40 in Hall 9 of the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover.

Related Articles


Cholera has been all but eradicated in Europe, but this bacterial, primarily waterborne disease still claims thousands of lives in Africa every year. Scientists are examining the effects various environmental factors have on cholera epidemics in Uganda. As part of this work, the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe developed a software architecture for early warning systems that compares environmental and health data and presents the results graphically. "This allowed us to visualize the complex relationships between these factors for the first time on risk maps, leading to a better understanding of the processes," explains project coordinator Dr. Kym Watson.

The scientists use sensors to measure environmental parameters such as rainfall, exposure to solar radiation and pH value, as well as temperature and concentration of nutrients in the water. Weather and climate forecasts are also factored into the analysis. At the same time, they use mobile applications to collect health data on cholera cases from hospitals and doctors, such as where patients have been and what their symptoms are. This data is collected and stored -- anonymously -- on a central server at the health authority in the Ugandan capital Kampala. Using the new software, each case appears as a red dot on a digital map. By correlating this information with the environmental data, scientists can see how fast and how far an outbreak is spreading.

"For the first time, Ugandan officials were able to visualize and comprehend the full extent and implications of the cholera outbreaks. Prior to this, individual cases were only ever recorded manually in written lists. Decision makers are now in a position to better deploy medical resources in the affected areas, and hospitals and doctors are better prepared and can respond much more effectively," says Watson, recounting the project's successes.

A variety of applications

This kind of early warning system can also be put to good use in other areas. As part of their work for EO2HEAVEN, the scientists investigated a further two case studies. In the German city of Dresden, they looked at the relationship between air quality -- measured in terms of temperature, Particulate Matter and ozone -- and cardiovascular diseases. And in the Durban industrial basin in South Africa, they investigated the correlation between air pollution and asthma.

In the long-term, members of the public also stand to benefit directly from the early warning system. "It's conceivable, for example, that an app for asthmatics would allow a user to set up a personal profile with their own allergic reaction thresholds for pollen count and air quality," says Watson. "By comparing this set of values with measured environmental data, the app would enable each individual to access a personalized risk map, and could issue a warning whenever the threshold values are exceeded."

Strictly confidential

But the project was not without its challenges. In Germany in particular, obtaining the necessary health data from health insurance companies is difficult since it goes without saying that these data are strictly confidential. So it is important to prepare data in a way that guarantees anonymity in order to safeguard data protection. What's more, once a high-risk situation has been identified it's not always easy to determine the right measures and actually carry them out; the IT solution is merely a tool that helps people in their decision-making. Whether cholera outbreaks in Uganda can really be confined naturally depends above all on the speed of the response, and on the quality of drinking water, hygiene practices and available medical resources.

A total of ten European and three African companies and research institutions collaborated in the EO2HEAVEN project, which had a budget of 8.7 million euros. Fraunhofer IOSB is implementing the cholera early warning system in collaboration with the World Health Organization WHO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA. The team is currently looking for additional sponsors and funding sources to advance the solution for widespread use in any affected country.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Early warning system for epidemics: Risk map correlates environmental, health data." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140221103811.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2014, February 21). Early warning system for epidemics: Risk map correlates environmental, health data. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140221103811.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Early warning system for epidemics: Risk map correlates environmental, health data." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140221103811.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Microsoft Riding High On Strong Surface, Cloud Performance

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) — Microsoft's Q3 earnings showed its tablets and cloud services are really hitting their stride. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Apps to Organize Your Life

The Best Apps to Organize Your Life

Buzz60 (Oct. 23, 2014) — Need help organizing your bills, schedules and other things? Ko Im (@konakafe) has the best apps to help you stay on top of it all! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nike And Apple Team Up To Create Wearable ... Something

Nike And Apple Team Up To Create Wearable ... Something

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — For those looking for wearable tech that's significantly less nerdy than Google Glass, Nike CEO Mark Parker says don't worry, It's on the way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins