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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Media Contact: Robert O'Keefe
(818) 677-3747
Media Release Archives


Google.org Leads Effort to Use Weather Data to Fight Disease



As floods, drought, and variable weather increase, Google.org is leading an effort to look at the effects of climate change on the distribution and severity of diseases such as cholera, Rift Valley fever, and malaria, the New York Times reports.

This month Google.org will convene African health, weather, insect, and climate experts to identify research gaps and opportunities for collaboration to help address deteriorating meteorological systems on the continent. Increasingly, the scant data gathered from such systems is failing to reach health officials who could use it to detect disease outbreaks before they become epidemics. Other international groups also are focusing on weather data collection.

For instance, the Millennium Villages Project at Columbia University’s Earth Institute recently funded a low-tech weather station in a remote Kenyan village severely affected by a 2006 outbreak of Rift Valley fever. The Rainwise Portalog station runs on solar energy and collects temperature, humidity, rainfall, and other information every ten minutes. Twice a month, a community manager downloads the data and sends it to the Kenya Meteorological Department, where the data is integrated into seasonal weather forecasts that can be used to predict and prevent outbreaks. If the Portalog scheme is effective, the Earth Institute says that hundreds of the stations may be installed across the continent.

Barclay, Eliza. “Google's Philanthropy Arm Leads Effort to Use Weather Data to Fight Disease.” New York Times 9/01/08.
Primary Subject: Health
Location(s): Africa