How IBM’s STEM Uses Big Data To Help Fight Infectious Diseases

Dean Takahashi | MedCity News | September 30, 2013

IBM has teamed up with university researchers to use big data and analytics to predict the outbreak of deadly diseases such as Dengue fever and Malaria.

The research is aimed at understanding the spread of diseases in real-time in order to better deploy public health resources to combat the spread of infectious diseases, said James Kaufman, public health manager at IBM Research in the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif.

But rather than just predicting the spread of a disease, the researchers at IBM, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California at San Francisco are applying analytics from large data sets to see how changes in rainfall, temperature, and even soil acidity can dramatically affect the populations of wild animals and insects that carry the infectious diseases. They’re also merging that information with other data, like airport and highway traffic, to further understand outbreaks.