As technology evolves, researchers have begun to focus more intently on health-based gadgets. There are plenty of activity-tracking bracelets, apps that can monitor your heart rate, and other medical breakthroughs in the tech field.
But none of these are as sophisticated as the computer system that can predict and monitor disease outbreaks around the world. Named "HealthMap," this program identified the Ebola outbreak in West Africa nine days before the World Health Organization (WHO) made their official statement.
HealthMap works by sifting through publicly available and free resources to determine where diseases are emerging. A complex algorithm puts outbreak points on a map, and color codes these points by intensity.
When the Ebola outbreak first took hold in West Africa, eyewitness reports, social media, and other informal accounts from hospitals or local health workers were among the only sources of information available. Later reports indicate that the first case likely emerged in Guinea on February 9, though it was not known to be Ebola at the time.
The HealthMap system ins't designed to replace the communication or resources for the medical community to identify and control diseases around the world. It's specifically designed to bring more accurate and up-to-date information to the public when diseases, like the newest strain of Ebola, are on the rise.