Telenor Research in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Oxford University, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, and the University of Peshawar conducted a study that mobile data can predict and track the spread of epidemic diseases. In the research the researchers discovered that mobile phone-based mobility estimates accurate timing and spread of dengue in both recent epidemics and emerging locations. The study combined the data with dengue climate-suitability maps and estimates of seasonal dengue virus to generate fine-scale risk maps.
The study evaluated more than 30 million call records from Telenor Pakistan subscribers during the 2013 dengue occurrence, using the large sample to investigate about the geographic spread and timing of the epidemic.
Telenor Uses Large Mobile Data to Fight Dengue in Pakistan[pull_quote_center]The maps and tools we created have direct application to future dengue containment and epidemic preparedness, and can also be applied to other infectious diseases.”[/pull_quote_center]
Said Kenth Engø-Monsen, who leads Telenor Research’s data driven development initiative and is co-author of the study.
The resultant model is likely to be helpful in designing effective national response mechanisms in Pakistan and other countries at risk, while demonstrating the potential for call records it will play an important role in accurately revealing mobility patterns that can help fight and foretell the spread of contagious disease.
The researcher said ongoing dengue countermeasures generally focus on control of the carrier species, although these actions are often logically difficult and vary in efficacy, and also do little to counter large-scale outbreaks once they are underway.
Dengue is the fastest-spreading disease in the world, with half the world population living in at-risk regions including Asia. The large mobile data set gave the team an overview of the human movement that drives transmission and will help health authorities in at-risk areas implement suitable countermeasures in place of an outbreak.