Tag Archives: health

Defeating Polio in Iraq

Post-immunization Campaign Surveys Use Real-Time Data Collection

By Jessica Wyland

The outbreak of polio in Syria and Iraq between October 2013 and April 2014 was described by one United Nations spokesperson as, “arguably the most challenging outbreak in the history of polio eradication.” Polio, a highly contagious disease that primarily afflicts children younger than age 5, can lead to partial and sometimes fatal paralysis.

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Mapping the Prescription Drug and Heroin Epidemic

Eight years ago, I lost my little brother, J. T., to the prescription drug epidemic that is growing and has been killing our families and friends. J. T. was the most charming person you could ever meet: an amazing musician, compassionate to all, and the best man at my wedding. He became addicted to the powerful painkiller called OxyContin. Before 2007, I had no idea what OxyContin was, but I’ve found that his story of becoming addicted was all too familiar to many others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 28,000 people died from prescription drugs alone in the United States in 2014—far more than car accidents—and many more addictions continue to impact families at home. I spoke very little of this topic during the first several years after J. T. passed, and I certainly didn’t think I’d ever be writing about it on a mapping blog. However, if our country, our families, and our friends are to truly address this issue, we must understand what it is and where it’s happening. I’ve become much more vocal in sharing this painful story, and maps have been my voice to raise awareness about the problem.

Associated with this epidemic is a definite stigma that needs to be refuted. This is happening to people everywhere—rich and poor, north and south, and within every demographic—so I started a memorial story map, Celebrating Lost Loved Ones. It shows a very small sample of bios written by people I’ve met who also lost loved ones to this epidemic, and the story map has been growing via social media. Each lost loved one has a picture and a bio with details about what made them special. Family members contribute by writing to CelebrateLostLovedOnes@gmail or contacting the community Facebook page. Grieving families in Canada have also started their own story map, and I have been collaborating with them to update the Celebrating Lost Loved Ones map. The map I created shows both prescription drug and heroin deaths. It is well documented that many people who start with opioid pills move on to heroin when it becomes harder to find pills, as the two drugs are very similar chemically. So the prescription drug epidemic and heroin addiction are bound together, causing massive impacts.

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Women at the Forefront of Innovation at Esri

Lots of companies talk about changing the world. At Esri, we’re certainly one of them. But when we talk about changing the world, it’s usually in the context of the technology we create. In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8, we wanted to share one of the other ways we’re changing the world.

Esri has had the good fortune and persistence to foster, maintain, and grow a diverse workforce. We enjoy a rich diversity in gender, in race, and even in age. This diversity is intentional, but it’s not an end in itself. Just as our core technology brings together disparate information in a common context to make better decisions, we’ve taken the same approach with our staff. We strongly believe that different perspectives and varied backgrounds can help us build a more competitive, more knowledgeable, and more successful organization. Continue reading

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Building Better Civil Solutions with Agile Government

Modern technology has dramatically increased the pace of software application development. Within hours a single person can now conceive, create and distribute an app to millions of people. Thanks to the global internet, access and updating of these apps occurs automatically and constantly. Products can be prototyped, measured, improved and updated many times a day. A result of this rapid iteration is the increasing evolution rate and validation of product capabilities that minimizes time to market. Often referred to as “agile development” or lean, this process is a fundamental shift in how businesses achieve market adoption and customer satisfaction. By contrast, waterfall development historically meant long and disconnected cycles of requirements, design, development, testing and delivery that stretch interminably and often discover late in the process new opportunities or missing requirements. The cost of development and delivery time using waterfall processes can mean projects become “too big to fail” yet also fail to meet critical business and customer objectives. Continue reading

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Geomedicine: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

For decades the public health field has generated incredible knowledge about what makes us sick. Public health agencies and authorities tell us in general what is good and bad for the general population, hoping that we will individually change our behaviors or pressure others to remediate assaults on our collective environments. Frankly, it’s a never ending job faced with difficult information choices, deaf ears, and mixed messages.

On the other hand, we have medicine at its apex of specialization, where doctors know a great deal about a few things and fewer know a little about everything. More problematic, however, is the new paradigm of a virtual physician in the palm of your hand: as society embraces the use of smartphones, people increasingly search for their own diagnoses and cures in absence of a more creative approach for bring public health knowledge into close proximity of personal medicine.

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Health 2.0: Place-Based Intelligence

Are you ready for geo-accounting?

The winds of change are blowing. A White House memo [PDF] recently sent to all executive department heads and agencies provides policy principles for submitting future agency budgets. This memo calls for place-based considerations in 2011 budgets. Picking up on the theme that “everything happens somewhere,” the Obama administration has connected the dots! Continue reading

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