VanRoekel Details Technology’s Role In Fighting The Ebola Crisis

Billy Mitchell | FedScoop | November 6, 2014

Technology is not the solution for Ebola.  That was part of the truth new U.S. Agency for International Development Chief Innovation Officer Steven VanRoekel spoke Thursday during his opening keynote at FedScoop’s FedTalks 2014.

It is, however — like it is with many things in government — “a part of the solution,” VanRoekel said. “We’re approaching and Ebola as ‘What can technology do to accelerate or amplify the care we normally do, make things more efficient, help us make better, faster decisions to get our arms around this in a way that maybe we wouldn’t be able to without technology.’”  VanRoekel, who departed his post as the federal chief information officer to join USAID in September, put that all in a bleak context, given West Africa’s lacking technological infrastructure. Applying the technology that would typically be used in the United States, he said, “is a whole new ballgame.”

...Leveraging technology, VanRoekel and USAID are taking the fight to Ebola in three distinct areas: improving point-of-care operations, strengthening communications and diving into data.  As medical workers deploy to West Africa to treat those affected by Ebola, a major concern is the protective suits they are wearing. Not only are the suits imperfect and vulnerable to accidental exposure, but putting them on and taking them off is also an extensive struggle...