As the latest Coronavirus outbreak has again demonstrated, governments and health authorities need to act as fast as a disease spreads in order to reduce risks and quell the fears of citizens. Increasing urbanization and the rise in mobility of large populations are making containment all the harder; the ability to act effectively is therefore essential to reduce the risk of an epidemic becoming a pandemic. In the age of social media, alongside the infection itself, recent events have also shown that what can be most dangerous to populations is the spread of misinformation. Without clear, data-driven and transparent decision-making and guidance, ‘fake news’ can spread rapidly, leading to panic, poor decision-making by individuals, and a lack of trust in public authorities.
Clearly, the ability to mobilize the right resources, in the right place and at the right time is a critical requirement for any governmental, healthcare and aid organization. Given this imperative, there is one thing that can outpace any epidemic: data. Effective data sharing and analytics can make all the difference by giving health managers and professionals powerful tools and information about real or potential epidemics. In the case of COVID-19, the World Health Organization has been clear in urging countries to share data in order to halt the spread of the virus.
The City of Vienna for instance has implemented an Epidemic Management System (EMS) to help control the spread of infectious diseases. Since March, it gives doctors, healthcare workers, and nurses a precise overview of today’s epidemiological situation. Such powerful technology platforms can track and trace incident reports in real- time, with use of analytics to understand disease patterns …
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