5 December 2017

Africa: Surveillance Systems - Game Changer For Disaster Relief

Photo: Zanu-PF Cape District Youth League
Disaster Surveillance Application logo.

Cape Town — We live in the era where everything is becoming digitized to improve accessibility and efficiency, and in recent years ICT has made its way into the healthcare industry. Our product will fuse GIS, Disaster Risk Management and Software engineering, the application will use GPS to keep track of the user's location and if the user is headed into a zone which has a recorded disease outbreak the application will notify the user of the danger ahead and it will provide the user with health tips to protect the user from getting contaminated with the disease, it will further help the user by suggesting the nearest health facilities should the user feel the need to visit a hospital or clinic.

Unlike the current information dissemination system being used by the ministry, this innovation will allow interaction and personalised information, that is to say, the user will only get a notification if he or she is heading in the direction of a recorded contagious disease or if the person is already in an affected area. By creating this platform we are trying to reduce the spread of infectious diseases through the use of modern communication mediums and geo-coded data. It will act as a personal early warning system and will enable the user to make informed decisions when traveling. Also we are trying to solve the issue of the distribution of healthcare information in the hopes that this method will be quicker and efficient and highly adaptable and reliable, solving the problem of accessibility.

Advanced Options

The user can access a national disease surveillance map which can show all the areas with contagious disease outbreaks and by tapping on the nodes on the map the user can view the specifics of the disease and its severity.


The application will make use of the District Health Information System (DHIS). This database stores all the information concerning the health sector derived from all the districts in the country. By tapping into this facility we can be in a position to disseminate the data through the application directly to the user's smartphone via the app client.

The project scope has been delimited to only disease surveillance for prototyping purposes to demonstrate proof of concept but the end goal is a holistic system is a disaster surveillance application that can be plugged to many national database whether it be climate database to show the farmers forecasts and use past data trends to make recommendations or the crime statistics database to track crime stats according to areas and disseminate information to stakeholders who are interested in the information.

So having such a system in place will help in both the collection and dissemination of data using distributed database systems once it is in place different stakeholders can get creative with the data.

Importance of disaster surveillance

  • Helps a community respond to health hazards quickly.
  • Enables a community to efficiently prepare for any health related disasters.
  • Acts as an early warning system.
  • Provides an individual with necessary information related to the threats
  • Offers immediate solutions in the case of exposure

Regulatory and technical standards that the product, service and process should meet

The project must meet information security standards to make sure that information is not lost or altered by hackers and also it has to be approved according to the ministry of Health and Child welfare of Zimbabwe regulatory standards.

Find original article here.

Nigel Jena is the ZANU-PF Cape District Youth League Secretary for Science and Technology


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