The Software Behind the Headlines

In a recent conversation with a friend who is a public health expert in sexually transmitted diseases and antibiotic resistance, her eyes lit up about Berkeley Madonna, the software program that she uses to calculate transmission rates and disease vectors. In her work, which focuses on AIDS and gonorrhea transmission among professional sex workers in the Phillippines, the software has made the task of modeling and analyzing dynamic systems much faster and easier.

Differential equations have existed long before computers, but thanks to fast processors and clever software, never before has it been so easy to quickly crank through tough math problems. In the area of public health, this has been particularly important as interventions can be planned more rapidly and more efficiently.

In the current SARS epidemic (which apparently is for real and not just a bunch of hype) it is mathematical modeling of transmission rates that has led to the WHO warning about Toronto, Singapore, China and elsewhere.

It was just an important reminder of the many ways in which ICTs have changed our collective ability to deal with certain global crises, and the software behind the headlines.

1 Comment

  1. Psychic preditions.

    December 20, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    1

    Psychic preditions….

    Psychic preditions….

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