Since last year, one of Pakistan’s major cities, Lahore has been facing the attack of dengue virus. Dengue is a mosquito transmitted disease and due to unhealthy conditions filled with lack of environmental measures of cleanliness, it has been able to spread out. More than 16,000 people have been reported infected and some 352 have died as a result of the dengue fever.
So far this year, there has been no death reported. The reason the outbreak has been managed is due to the new tracking system that helps in predicting the outbreaks in any given region. According to the MIT Technology Review, this has been fundamental in controlling the disease. The government officials have gathered data from those who were infected. The system’s algorithm then predicted a possible future outbreak for them. Certain regions could be mapped out for possible outbreaks and then the epidemic could be stopped.
Umar Saif, who is a professor at LUMS, headed the project Flubreaks based on Google Flu Trends. This Google trend indicator works based on searched related to the topic of the flu and predicts where it is heading out to. Flubreaks similarly predicts outbreaks by checking on global flue trends. Now, this same method is being applied for the dengue outbreaks. But for this, Umar Saif says that there is a need for a different algorithm as diseases are different.
Now, Pakistan is using 1,500 Android phones to predict dengue fever outbreak. To verify the trends in the country, Google Dengue Trends will be checked and compared. This highlights the importance of digital data collection. Umar Saif will also check on social media reports to track down the dengue outbreak and monitor its trend.