Tech giant Google has begun work with UN agency UNICEF, which will see the company analyse data with the intention of mapping and anticipating, the spread of Zika virus.
In a statement released by Google last week, the company pledged a $US1 million grant to assist the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, in raising awareness about Zika. The funding will also go towards boosting Zika-related initiatives and working to reduce harmful mosquito populations.
The virus, transmitted by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito has now spread to over 25 countries according to the Centers of Disease Control.
“That’s a pandemic in progress,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. “It isn’t as if it’s turning around and dying out, it’s getting worse and worse as the days go by.”
The virus began gathering international attention after an alarming connection was made between it and microcephaly – a neurological disorder that causes birth defects such as abnormally small craniums, developmental issues and sometimes death.
Google said that interest in the virus had increased by over 3000 per cent since last November and as such, it wants to provide adequate information, for those looking to find it.
The company is also working with engineers, designers, and data scientists to help UNICEF build a platform through which multiple sources of data can be used to predict potential outbreaks and map the virus’ expansion into new territories.