Some of my medical colleagues and I wrote this short piece to illustrate the use of cellphone data in tracking epidemics. We saw a spate of interest in this with the ebola threat. There will, sadly, be more, and crowded and infrastructure-challenged countries like India are particularly in trouble. Since we have so many cellphones here, this is something companies and entrepreneurs and policymakers can put to good use!
The article starts:
The current Ebola outbreak has brought media attention to the public health practice known as ‘contact tracing.’ This practice – of locating every person who has come in contact with an infected individual – has proved to be valuable in managing contagious diseases, such as STDs and tuberculosis.
While tracing sexual contacts in order to manage the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases may be challenging, the job is significantly harder when tracking casual social contacts of patients with tuberculosis. Or Ebola.