Academic journal article Human Ecology

Battling Ebola: Anna Tate Fights the Outbreak with Open Source Maps

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Battling Ebola: Anna Tate Fights the Outbreak with Open Source Maps

Article excerpt

As the Ebola crisis continues in West Africa, Anna Tate '11, a master's of public health student at Emory University, is helping health care workers slow the spread of disease.

The virus, which claimed 7,500 lives in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia in 2014, spreads person-to-person, so rapid contact tracing--locating sick people and those who've interacted with them--is critical for stopping it. In response, Tate and her colleagues on Emory's Student Outbreak and Response Team are using OpenStreetMap, an open source online platform, to coordinate information from West African expatriates and workers on the ground to add villages, roads, footpaths, and key landmarks to aerial satellite images.

"Once maps are finalized, they're immediately available for organizations like Doctors Without Borders," says Tate. From March to October 2014, contributors to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team mapped 8 million objects.

Responding to the disease on another front, last summer Tate began a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where she updates Ebola statistics, creates presentations for high-level meetings, develops talking points, and screens emails from the public for response by CDC officials.

"It helps my understanding of how difficult it is to fight this, even with all of the effort from the CDC and other government and non-government organizations," Tate says. …

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