Stanford Geospatial Center helps use “The Crowd” to reduce childhood cholera mortality

February 17, 2015
Mr. Stace D Maples
Using the ID Editor to map Kendua, Bangladesh

Aid Health efforts in Bangladesh by mapping; take a task now at The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Task Manager project page.

Stanford University Pediatric Global Health Physician/Scientist Eric Nelson is using mapping apps to do something unexpected.  Using the widely adopted Android mobile platform, Nelson is working with a diverse team of programmers and researchers, including the Stanford Geospatial Center and the Stanford Computer Science Department, to develop an application geared to assessing and providing guidance on treatment of diarrheal disease. The technology is being built and tested so that it will also have applicability in other outbreaks situations like Ebola. The project is funded by the NIH and, in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Bangladesh, Nelson is undertaking a study in Kendua, Bangladesh, to leverage mobile technology in overcoming these challenges.

Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age globally. Despite effective treatments and advances in health care provider education, case fatality rates from diarrheal disease, including cholera, remain unacceptably high and conventional methods have been unable to overcome barriers to provide patients timely access to care in resource-poor settings. This is especially true early in cholera outbreaks when response teams are slow to mobilize; cholera can infect, transmit and kill in less than 20 hours.

The app will collect generalized geographic information about the home location of patients admitted for diarrheal disease in order to identify outbreak clusters early, improve care, and advance our basic understanding of the disease. To provide such a capability will require a base map, and therein lies the problem… Kendua, Bangladesh is, literally, not on the map.

This is not an unknown issue in the world of development and crisis mapping, and it is where “the crowd” can make the difference. Mikel Maron, Co-Founder of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) and Presidential Innovation Fellow visited the Stanford Geospatial Center to discuss his work supporting disaster relief efforts, mapgive.state.gov, and consult with Nelson's team on the Kendua project. The Mapgive initiative provides anyone with an internet connection the training and resources they need to make meaningful contributions to mapping efforts aimed at disaster relief in remote and resource poor parts of the world. 

OpenStreetMap.org (OSM) has been chosen by Nelson and his team as the base map infrastructure for the mobile application they are developing. Since the inception of HOT after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, OSM has become the de facto mapping infrastructure for disaster relief and response in under- and un-mapped parts of the world.

 “Using OpenStreetMap and the collaborative workflows developed by HOT will allow us to engage and coordinate a massive community of relief mappers, both remotely and on the ground in Bangladesh, in order to develop the basemap infrastructure we need for the project,” says the Stanford Geospatial Center’s manager, and a collaborator on the Kendua Project, Stace Maples.

HOT’s Tasking Manager breaks down the mapping of Kendua into manageable pieces which can be ‘checked out’ for mapping by contributors. This system allows the researchers on the project to provide specific instructions on what and how to map as well as quality controls to ensure the map’s accuracy. Nelson and his team hope to complete the Kendua mapping in time for the launch of the application pilot, in March. The project plans to continue using the OSM/HOT infrastructure for a wider study to launch later in the year. 

If you would like to contribute to the mapping of Kendua, Bangladesh, or any other currently prioritized HOT project, it’s easy to do so. Just visit mapgive.state.gov to learn the basics of contributing to Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's efforts, then go to the Kendua Project’s HOT Task Manager page at http://tasks.hotosm.org/project/901 and begin mapping.