IBM maps diseases

IBM has created software technology that can map the spread of disease across the world.

The software, known as Spatiotemporal Epidemiological Modeler (STEM), was created to help scientists and public health officials understand the spread of disease and design more efficient contingency plans in a health crisis. It is available from the Eclipse Foundation through the Eclipse Open Healthcare Framework Project (OHF).

After three years of research, STEM was created to quickly produce epidemiological models for how an infectious disease, such as avian flu, is likely to geographically spread over time.

It would create graphs to show the spread based on factors that include population, geographic and macro-economic data, airport locations, roadmaps, travel patterns and migratory routes around the world.

‘STEM will allow public health officials to model the spread of a disease much like modelling a storm or hurricane,’ said Joseph Jasinski, IBM’s Healthcare and Life Sciences program director. ‘It allows us to produce a public health ‘weather map’ for the spread of a particular disease.’

The tool, which is compatible with any operating system, is said to be able to access information from clinics, hospitals, and lab systems to get anonymous data about the diseases to create a real-time picture of a population’s health.

A basic epidemiological model framework will be supplied to users, which can be adjusted to suit each particular requirement. The different customised models can then be shared among users through the Eclipse OHF project.