IBM joins Ebola fightback with tracking software

IBM is taking a lead in the battle against the Ebola virus by releasing tracking software for use by affected countries to monitor progress of the disease.

The bottom-up platform enables people on the ground to report cases directly simply by a location-coded SMS text message or voice call. This data can then be harnessed by government agencies and health bodies to mobilise their resources where they are most needed.

Affected countries such as Sierra Leone have already benefitted from the system, which has seen deliveries of staples such as soap and electricity expedited in an attempt to halt the virus in its tracks.

Dr Uyi Stewart, chief scientist of IBM Research in Africa, said: “We saw the need to quickly develop a system to enable communities directly affected by Ebola to provide valuable insight about how to fight it.

"Using mobile technology, we have given them a voice and a channel to communicate their experiences directly to the government."

The general public are being alerted to the programme via radio broadcasts with local telecoms provider Airtel setting up a free number to relay the alerts.