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October 20, Nigerian authorities announced the end of Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. Among the various factors that led to this success, a mobile application, eHealth, played a role “crucial” to contain the pandemic. “ With this virus, time is very important , explained Omobola Johnson, Nigerian Minister of Communication Technologies. The application has reduced the time to identification of infections by 75% “
Read. Nigeria, the country that countered the virus Ebola
Specifically, the contact tracers , these investigators to meet people who may have been contaminated, received phones and tablets equipped with the application, which they allowed to trace in real time new cases detected. Developed by the local branch of the American Society eHealth and Information Systems, this tool was deployed with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO). A similar system should be set up in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, to track the spread of the disease more effectively.
Sending Bulk SMS
EHealth is just one example, among many, of how new technologies can make themselves useful in a crisis. March 14, HealthMap, an interactive map following outbreaks based on data from social networks, local newsletters, emergencies and other databases calls, had first reported the beginning of the epidemic a week before the WHO.
Since then, high-tech initiatives are multiplying on the front Ebola. UNICEF sends messages of prevention through mass SMS. Orange has made available a Swedish NGO geolocation data – anonymous – its subscribers neighboring countries to monitor population movements and anticipate the evolution of the epidemic. IBM, meanwhile, has announced the release of Ebola Tracker, an application that allows people living in areas at risk of sending free messages to report suspected cases.
Teams from the Red Cross, meanwhile, use Ramp, near eHealth system, also used them for three years, to identify cases of malaria. A tool that made their work more efficiently, according Benedict Matsha-Carpentier, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent: “ Before, when you were in the depths of the Investigation Liberia, it was time to go, to write its data on paper, with the risk of errors involved, to return to Monrovia, to transmit the paper, and then analyze these data … The delay could be several weeks between the collection and analysis of data. “ Now it’s instantaneous. “ The sooner we have the information, the faster we can react” .
If these innovations work today is that they are based, to a large portion of them on mobile, more and more developed, even in the most remote areas. In 2012, the World Bank estimated that nearly 75% of the world population had a mobile phone, and 5 of 6 billion subscriptions worldwide were from developing countries.
Nicole Guedj, Secretary of State the right of victims in 2005, ‘ technologies and urgency go together . ” In 2006, she created the Red Helmets Foundation, which advocates, among others, for “ the provision of innovative technological tools” for aid. “ Initially, the technologies are not thought out and designed for humanitarian purposes, but they can become. The possibilities are unlimited, every day you can invent a tool that meets a specific need. “ His foundation has developed Emergesat, a satellite container to restore communications in the event of damaged infrastructure, but also Missing, a search for missing persons in natural disasters.
In recent years, other initiatives from NGOs, government, businesses or users have shown that the use of new technologies can sometimes facilitate the work on the ground.
See the map of technological innovations in the service of humanitarian:
“ technologies may allow us to better conduct our work <- - atom snippet!> “ says Jean-Yves Clemenzo, spokesman for the Red Cross for East Africa. “ Our approach is to be open to innovations. It’s been years that we adapt to digital, which evaluates whether a particular technology can be helpful. We have a whole team observed that environment. “ The Red Cross has even launched in October, the” Global Partnership for Humanitarian impact and innovation, “a series of meetings between NGOs, businesses and researchers to” explore new outdoor areas from humanitarian “, such as new technologies.
But beware, these” may also ask problems , “warns Jean-Yves Clemenzo” especially regarding data protection . ” “ In areas of conflict, for example, they are too sensitive, so we prefer direct contact. For each context, if analysis may be useful. If they pose a risk is dropped. “
Despite all these experiments, many NGOs have not taken the plunge. “The financial entry ticket hinders the establishment” says Dominique Bounie, consultant to the World Food Programme (WFP). Many companies are knocking on the door of charities to sell their technological device. “ Especially since Ebola” says, on condition of anonymity, a French NGO.
“ The images provided by drones offer a level of analysis of unpublished field. “
But according to Dominique Bounie, WFP, many organizations are not adequately equipped to deal with all these stresses:” There not always have the skills in-house to be aware of new technologies, identify the utility of a tool, potential partners … It takes a lot of time and energy for people who are already busy with their traditional occupation “.
Yet , technologies continue to evolve and with them, the humanitarian world. What will the next innovation that will change the way of working in the field? “ Drones ,” says Patrick Meier, co-founder of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and author of the blog iRevolution devoted to new technologies for humanitarian work. “The images provided by drones offer a level of analysis of unpublished field. Unlike satellite images, they are much cheaper to produce, can be sent much faster with very high resolution. “ And that’s not all. “ The drone can also carry packets, which means they can transport resources, medical, for example, in the affected areas, much faster than the truck. “ Finally, the drones also have the ability to provide a Wi-Fi network, even in the most remote areas. Google and Facebook are ready to invest in this field
Read. After Facebook, Google buys turn a manufacturer of drones