The Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL) is hosting a Computing for Ebola Challenge this week from October 3-10, 2014. The goal of the hackathon is to develop an application to combat the Ebola epidemic.
“We use team science and innovative approaches to answer challenging problems when a rapid response is needed,” said Stephen Eubank, deputy director of NDSSL. “The Computing for Ebola Challenge drives team science to a whole other level by finding ways to engage and empower the public to take on this growing epidemic together.”
To aid participants and researchers worldwide, NDSSL is releasing several synthetic populations based on detailed microscopic simulation-based modeling and integration techniques. The detailed data includes population, locations, activities and contract graphs for Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.
It was evident early on that having quality data would be essential when combatting the challenging disease. A diverse group of researchers – faculty, staff and students, have come together to lend their expertise in situational awareness and decision support.
These efforts have culminated in an informatics resources page for Ebola epidemic response. The site is available to the public as a means of sharing useful information about the work being done at NDSSL to combat Ebola. Visitors can find open data sets, social media monitoring, Ebola modeling updates and other relevant information.
“Successful applications to complex socially and biologically coupled systems have repeatedly demonstrated the effectiveness of the NDSSL synthetic information systems approach,” said Christopher Barrett, the executive director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. “Both the distribution of ebola-related synthetic data and the Simfrastructure app challenge announced here speak once again to the novelty, usefulness and quality of the NDSSL R&D program.”
NDSSL anticipates hosting more resources over time, including analytical tools and other broad based resources. Lab-led projects from the Computing for Ebola Challenge will be openly available and incorporated into the informatics resources page.
“The hackathon and the informatics resource hub will allow citizen scientists, academics and students to play an active role in developing innovative analytic tools and apps that can be used for responding to the current outbreak,” said Madhav Marathe, director of NDSSL. “We expect that many of the data sets and tools will find a more broader applicability over time by providing an information exchange resource.”
Source: Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, adapted.