Open-Source Modeling for Health

May 15, 2006

Christine Gorman at Time has posted a fascinating analysis of the new Global Pandemic Initiative, which is a collaborative effort between IBM and over twenty major worldwide public health institutions, including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help stem the spread of infectious diseases with the goal of identifying and mapping pandemic outbreaks to better target vaccines. The centerpiece of this effort is an open-source information database and epidemiological modeling effort to bring together the various people and organizations tackling the problem of avian flu.This is great news, not just for bird flu but for the broader field of global health. This effort is built on an emerging international consensus about the value of information sharing and harnesses the innovative technologies that can facilitate that exchange of data, ideas, and methodologies for predicting future health needs and quantifying the necessary interventions. Hopefully these open-source values and the solutions they inspire will extend to the rest of the health community as it faces more 'routine' challenges like resource tracking and demand forecasting, where information transparency is a critical component of any true solution.


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