Lahore: Dr. Umar Saif, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Lahore University of Management and Science (LUMS) and currently Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board, ever since the last dengue epidemic, has been dabbling in epidemiology with a focus on building early warning systems for epidemics.
During the last year he has worked on two, very interesting and practical projects. He examined whether Google Flu Trends data can be used as a basis for building an early epidemic system. Google Flu trends (Nature, Aug’08) tracks the query volume of the symptoms of a disease like Flu; a very useful idea, especially for countries like Pakistan that do not have a CDC-scale disease surveillance system. An important question is whether/how such a surveillance method can be used for early epidemic detection.
Dr. Saif and his team developed FluBreaks that uses Google Flu trends data for early epidemic detection. This is the first such system that uses Google Flu Trends for building an early warning system. His paper was also published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), ranked #1 in Medical Informatics with an impact factor of 4.7.
He and his team have also built a comprehensive Dengue surveillance, early detection and containment system for the Government of Punjab, using algorithms from above. “The Punjab Government played a central role in our dengue monitoring and prevention activities this year (and helped avert an outbreak from developing into an epidemic),” he said.
Dr. Saif also shared that he and his team will be presenting their work at the annual 2012 mHealth Summit, titled “Punjab-IDSS: Dengue Surveillance, Early Detection and Containment,” joint work with NYU and UW.