The GSMA’s Peter Montgomery explained how the combination of mobile data, big data, and information from clinics could help stop the spread of disease and illness in India.
One of the things the GSMA tried to highlight at Mobile World Congress 2018 was the place where tech legitimately can do good—for example in helping drive efficiencies in public health so that resources can stretch to have a bigger impact.
Montgomery said, “The GSMA is doing a lot a work around sustainable development and humanitarian work. And one of the projects we’ve been looking at is using the mobile networks to understand how that can better treat things like the outbreak of tuberculosis. So in India, approximately 1,400 people die every day from tuberculosis. And we’ve been looking at how we can use mobile data, big data, and information from clinics on the ground to better treat and eradicate the disease.
“We obviously have information on the ground that comes in from the various clinics. And we can look at that data to see where the outbreaks and the hotspots of tuberculosis are. So we know where the red zone is, where there’s a large density population of TB, and the green zones, where there’s less. And then if you look at the mobile data—the information from the mobile networks—you can understand anonymously the commuter patterns. Are people moving from a low-risk area into a high-risk area? And then looking at that even further, you can understand. But how do we address that? Do we need to educate people on that route? Do we need to put more clinics into our region? And then you begin to treat the cause and the root cause of it.”
Montgomery added, “Obviously this was run as a proof-of-concept with a view to be rolling out. You’re looking at how do you better spend the resource, so instead of blanket-treating the entire country, you can begin to work where there are target areas that we need to really address. What are the hotspots, and how do we then best [treat] those? Is it through education? Is it through a different approach on the medical side of things? And you can make informed decisions about what needs to be done on a more granular basis. Rather than spreading a lot a resources very thinly, you can target specific areas that need treatments really badly.”