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Business

Creating an early warning flu pandemic system

Created by students: An early warning system for flu pandemics, to prevent the spread of the virus on the 2009 or 1918 flu pandemic which killed countless numbers.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

With the major concern over avian flu (H5N1) and the more recent swine flu pandemic (H1N1) which gripped the world stage last summer, the worry that something as simple as influenza could cripple the world is a possibility governments are aware of.

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What does it do?

The Indonesian team at the Imagine Cup 2010 in Warsaw, Poland developed an early warning and detection system called MOSAIC, which is based on queries from social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other publically available content.

Designed for not only governments and health organisations, it can be provided to ordinary citizens to enable them to proactively defend themselves from any potential threats they face in the place they live.

Information is a global, worldwide currency that is invaluable to those who require it. Using publically available data which is given out by ordinary citizens can be used to detect trends. Using publically submitted data, keywords can be extracted and a formula applied to create a model to predict potential outbreaks.

As they write on their group blog:

“We find that these online queries are very valuable resources which hold information regarding the possibility of pandemic occurrence. We build our model by filtering the search queries related to flu, and do some advance data mining technique to detect the outbreak. Our method relies on the emerging research on public health field that proven statistically effective describing health activity patterns.”

The system uses Silverlight and Bing Maps to create the simulation and map the data into a visually clear format, whilst using Google’s graph technology and Flash. The student developers pointed out that, though for purposes of the competition they were limited to the technologies, their self-created API allows open-source access and multi-platform use.

Apple loving students at a Microsoft run competition?

As informatics students at ITB, Indonesia, they are hoping to focus on software design in a post-graduate position, and go on to develop their own software companies. As keen iPhone and Apple users, it shows the lack of ‘discrimination’ towards rival software companies within the role of this competition.

After speaking to them for a good fifteen minutes, they pointed out their own feeling of importance to creating software solutions such as this. It boils down simply to creating something for the greater good. The competition was not an incentive for creating what they have, more rather something to maintain their motivation and provide the opportunity for meeting non-profit organisations and NGO’s.

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