Stories From the Trenches: Deploying a Global Pandemic Tracking System in 48 Hours - O'Reilly Web 2.0 Expo
by Josh Knauer
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In under 48 hours, and working pro bono, Rhiza Labs harnessed crowds' wisdom and professionals' expertise to create a free portal that tracks the spread of H1N1 swine flu 5-6 days faster than ...
In under 48 hours, and working pro bono, Rhiza Labs harnessed crowds' wisdom and professionals' expertise to create a free portal that tracks the spread of H1N1 swine flu 5-6 days faster than government sources. Join Rhiza to learn how to implement fast, flexible crowdsourcing technology that makes data accessible to non-experts, scales to unexpected traffic and ensures the validity of data.
In Spring 2009, leading bioresearch firm Recombinomics tried to track he spread of swine flu with a simple online map – but it just couldn’t keep up with the virus’ spread. Seeing an opportunity to live out its social mission, community technology laboratory lent its expertise to Recombinomics pro bono to create FluTracker, a free web mapping platform for tracking outbreaks of swine flu.
FluTracker is powered by user contributions vetted by a team of researchers and volunteers. FluTracker’s value is its information (which is provided for free as a map, a CSV file, and RSS and KML feeds), but Rhiza deliberately designed these tools to enable non-experts to create useful structured data. A simple web-based form allows users around the world to submit cases of swine flu (over 6,000 so far) documented by news and government reports, which Recombinomics’ team reviews, and Rhiza publishes to a dynamic map and data feed.
This process, filtered crowdsourcing, combines the omnipresence of crowds with the scientific expertise of professionals to create a more complete and accurate resource than either group could create independently. The result: major media news outlets have recognized FluTracker as documenting the spread of flu 5-6 days ahead of the Centers for Disease Control, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies across the Americas have turned to FluTracker to support policy, continuity and preparedness decisions, and private citizens are using FluTracker to get the latest updates on the spread of swine flu in their areas.
Join Rhiza Labs to learn how to implement fast, flexible crowdsourcing technology that can scale to unexpected amounts of traffic, allow non-experts to access, input, analyze, and download data, ensure data accuracy, and adapt rapidly to evolving challenges. Learn how the principle of human-centered design – computing that adapts to human cognition, and not vice-versa – shaped the tools that have enabled FluTracker to become an acknowledged and comprehensive resource. Leave with a roadmap for designing your own system that empowers users to create and visualize data while ensuring its accuracy, thereby creating a portal of truly broad use.
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