Mapping Zika with Google

The tech giant contributes funding and technical support to monitor and respond to the spread of Zika infection across Latin America.

Mar 4, 2016
Catherine Offord

GOOGLEGoogle will be providing logistical and financial support in the battle against Zika virus, according to an announcement posted yesterday (March 3) on the company’s official blog. The move comes amid increasing concerns about the link between Zika infection and microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and other health risks.

“As a company whose mission is helping people find information, with a lot of experience in analyzing large sets of data, we’re in a good position to help—at scale and at speed,” according to Google.

In addition to contributing $1 million to UNICEF for ground work in affected areas, and updating its search features to make information on Zika infection more accessible, Google has provided a support team to work on mapping the spread of the virus.

“A volunteer team of Google engineers, designers, and data scientists is helping UNICEF build a platform to process data from different sources (i.e., weather and travel patterns) in order to visualize potential outbreaks,” the company stated. “This set of tools is being prototyped for the Zika response, but will also be applicable to future emergencies.”

Google noted more than a 3,000 percent increase in global searches relating to Zika in the last five months, adding in its post that as well as providing “extensive information about Zika” in 16 languages, the company is raising awareness about prevention methods through collaboration with popular YouTube creators across Latin America.

“We hope these efforts are helpful in fighting this new public health emergency, and we will continue to do our part to help combat this outbreak,” Google noted.