Fiocruz will use IBM technology to comb public, Portuguese-speaking Twitter accounts for incidents of Zika, its close cousin dengue fever—which Zika is often misdiagnosed as—and the presence of the mosquito breed that commonly spreads the disease.
Fiocruz will also use IBM’s STEM program to model the spread of the disease based on factors like weather, human travel, and geography, and analysis of Twitter chatter to research how Zika spreads, and how it might be contained.
Here’s more from the press release:
After Fiocruz defines search parameters, IBM’s Research Lab in Brazil will then put IBM’s cloud-based sentiment analytics technology to work to harvest and interpret anonymized data. The report IBM produces for Fiocruz will enable it to make actionable recommendations directly to public health officials. IBM researchers applied similar technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, analyzing nearly 60 million social media posts. The researchers developed sophisticated algorithms to analyze large volumes of posts on social networks in near real-time.
In addition to those efforts, IBM plans to support a hackathon at at Fiocruz this fall in Brazil, bringing together 70 software developers to build new health apps.
Zika—a highly contagious virus with no known cure or vaccine—is spreading at an alarming rate in Brazil, where the 2016 Olympic Games open next week. Concerns have been voiced over the possible international spread of the disease as a result of millions visiting Brazil from around the globe, and at least one Seattle company just secured funds to try to combat the virus.
Here’s more on how computer simulations are being used to identify proteins related to the Zika virus.