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- Sep 2020
Nic Fildes in London and Javier Espinoza in Brussels April 8 2020 Jump to comments section Print this page Be the first to know about every new Coronavirus story Get instant email alerts When the World Health Organization launched a 2007 initiative to eliminate malaria on Zanzibar, it turned to an unusual source to track the spread of the disease between the island and mainland Africa: mobile phones sold by Tanzania’s telecoms groups including Vodafone, the UK mobile operator.Working together with researchers at Southampton university, Vodafone began compiling sets of location data from mobile phones in the areas where cases of the disease had been recorded. Mapping how populations move between locations has proved invaluable in tracking and responding to epidemics. The Zanzibar project has been replicated by academics across the continent to monitor other deadly diseases, including Ebola in west Africa.“Diseases don’t respect national borders,” says Andy Tatem, an epidemiologist at Southampton who has worked with Vodafone in Africa. “Understanding how diseases and pathogens flow through populations using mobile phone data is vital.”
the best way to track the spread of the pandemic is to use heatmaps built on data of multiple phones which, if overlaid with medical data, can predict how the virus will spread and determine whether government measures are working.