Google Works With UNICEF to Map Spread of Zika Virus

Company hopes to anticipate virus’ next move

Google’s engineers are working with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to analyze data in an effort to map and anticipate the spread of the Zika virus, according to a Reuters report.

Google said in a statement that it was providing a $1 million grant to UNICEF to help the agency’s volunteers on the ground, mostly in Latin America. The company also said that a volunteer team of its engineers, designers, and data scientists is helping UNICEF build a platform to process data from different sources, including weather and travel patterns, in order to visualize potential outbreaks.

“The goal of this open-source platform was to identify the risk of Zika transmission for different regions and help UNICEF, governments, and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] decide how and where to focus their time and resources,” the company said in its statement.

A UNICEF spokesman noted that the platform could be expanded for global use and employed in future disease outbreaks.

Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, said the Google grant would help UNICEF reach 200 million people in the region who are either affected by or vulnerable to the Zika virus with information on how they can protect themselves.

Source: Reuters; March 3, 2016.