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Are IBM Outsmarting Ebola?

Tech giants IBM take on their biggest virus yet… Ebola! This is not the first time that IBM have responded to international crisis calls.


2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the Colorado floods 2013 are some they have supported through their technology.

This time however they are calling for citizen engagement to help them track and contain the deadly virus on a case-by- case basis and how? Through the use of mobile technology based on user sent reports.

Telco operator Airtel have made this easier by providing citizens with a free number to text or call to report cases and suspected cases. This information received by IBM’s supercomputers via the Smart Cloud takes 48 hours to process. Information received is turned into heat maps to highlight the most high risk areas. The goal is to create a cloud based Ebola-Data Repository for governments, aid agencies and researchers to have free and open access to data related to the sickness.

This information has proved paramount in mitigating risks, quickening response times and burials, making international appeals for aid as well as highlighting correlations and patterns through data. Aid from soap to electricity has been received by those most affected.


Ebola free Nigeria echo their support as Lagos state government host an Ebola Operations Centre that coordinates the Virus’s containment efforts on behalf of the Nigerian government and other organisations. IBM’s donation for Lagos means quicker, stringent containment measures should a future epidemic break out.

IBMs use of mobile technology that is accessible and simple gives voice to the people and creates a platform for citizens and governments to work together bringing communities closer, while giving a sense of power to those who feel helpless. Currently the World Health Organisation ( WHO) have reported the Ebola death toll at 4,922 the fatalities are recorded in West African countries; Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Although IBMs support through the recording of mass data that in decades past would not have even been possible! Is a vital response now. Empowerment through education on how Ebola operates and is transmitted is still very much needed on a human level through-out the communities of West Africa for the future.

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