Public notebook

Crowdsensing: mobile data and predictive algorithms

In Pakistan, mobile data has helped the authorities predict where an epidemic will break out:

Researchers working for the Pakistani government developed an early epidemic detection system for their region that looked for telltale signs of a serious outbreak in data gathered by government employees searching for dengue larvae and confirmed cases reported from hospitals. If the system’s algorithms spotted an impending outbreak, government employees would then go to the region to clear mosquito breeding grounds and kill larvae. “Getting early epidemic predictions this year helped us to identify outbreaks early,” says Umar Saif, a computer scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, and a recipient of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 award in 2011.

When we think about “mobility” and its potential in business and society, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the desktop and app paradigm.