Working in Uganda, researchers from the EO2HEAVEN project used sensors to measure a range of environmental parameters, such as rainfall and exposure to solar radiation, as well as temperature and the concentration of nutrients in the water. They then factored in weather and climate forecasts and health data on cholera cases from hospitals and doctors.
The new software combines these data, which are all stored on a central server at the health authority in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, to produce a map on which each case appears as a red dot. Correlation with the environmental data then allows health workers to see how fast and how far an outbreak is spreading, as well as the areas that are at risk.
‘For the first time, Ugandan officials were able to visualise and comprehend the full extent and implications of the cholera outbreaks,’ said the project’s coordinator, Kym Watson of the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation in Karlsruhe, Germany.
The researchers have also applied the technique to studies of the relationship between air quality and cardiovascular diseases in the German city of Dresden, and the correlation between air pollution and asthma in the Durban industrial basin in South Africa.
This story was published in the April 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine