Brief: IBM Leads Data-Sharing Initiative To Fight Pandemic - InformationWeek

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Brief: IBM Leads Data-Sharing Initiative To Fight Pandemic

Group takes aim at dangerously weak data-sharing network.

The bird flu threat level rose last week after Indonesian authorities said five family members died of the disease. Officials later ruled out human-to-human transmission. That we know about five deaths in an Indonesian village sounds like there's an efficient network for sharing health data. But, in fact, such sharing relies on a perilously weak patchwork.

IBM and several international groups last week launched the Global Pandemic Initiative to speed communication among public and private health care institutions to track infectious diseases. It includes the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh. IBM backs open source technology for health care authorities to build standard data-sharing platforms. It also has its own downloadable framework for researchers to run applications and overlay XML-compliant data such as population densities and bird flu cases.

"We have a lot of technology. The question is, how do we get it used?" says IBM's Joseph Jasinski, program director for health care and life sciences. And a bigger question: Will we do it in time? --Paul McDougallCommunication starts here.

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