Geoinformation aids Ebola relief efforts

Geoinformation aids Ebola relief efforts

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West Africa, October 27, 2014: The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Last week, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on October 23 launched a public website to assist US and international relief efforts to combat the spread of the Ebola virus disease. The website provides online access to NGA’s unclassified geospatial intelligence tools.

The website, which uses Esri’s ArcGIS Platform hosted in the cloud by Amazon Web Services, features various base maps that provide foundational context for users, who will then have the ability to visually overlay public NGA data, as well as ingest open-source data.

NGA’s first exposure of data includes geospatial layers relevant to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, including cultural places and structures, and communication, electric power and ground transportation infrastructure.

NGA’s data will provide logistical information relevant to the situation on the ground, said Steven Alness, deputy director of the Office of Future Xperience for NGA’s Xperience Directorate.

In addition to this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that it is tracking the approximate locations of cell phone users in West Africa who dial emergency call centres in an effort to predict the onset and spread of Ebola outbreaks.

By collecting tower data from telecommunications providers, CDC officials can visualise the beginnings of the outbreak. Using Esri mapping software, public health officials intend to layer the call data over census information, such as population densities and hospital locations.

The pandemic so far has claimed about 3,865 lives, primarily in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the World Health Organization

Source: NGA and NextGov