SORMAS: Mobile Ebola Surveillance

Surveillance of Ebola infections by real-time mobile data transmission in Nigeria

The ongoing Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa and the possible re-emergence of new Ebola virus infections in countries such as Nigeria require to strengthen the disease surveillance and control capabilites in these countries.
The aim of the project "EBOKON 10" is to exploit information technology to support in identifying emerging infections and Ebola suspected cases as well as their contacts immediately. In this way, further spread of infections can be prevented. Together with the Nigerian "Programme for Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training" the Department of Epidemiology at the HZI (Prof. Dr. Krause) has initiated that project to address this challenge.
In order to meet the specific technical requirements of West African countries, a management tool for infection control and for real time transmission of epidemiological data will be developed. It will run on normal mobile phones that are widely spread in West African countries. The complexity of the data processing is, however, handled by a high-performance data management platform and the use of cloud technology provided by SAP, a German Software Corporation.

Our partners:

Nigeria Field Epidemiology & Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP), Abuja, Nigeria

Bernhard-Nocht-Institut für Tropenmedizin (BNIT), Hamburg

Robert Koch-Institut (RKI), Berlin

Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Abuja, Nigeria

Deutsche Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (DZIF), Braunschweig

Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Potsdam 

SORMAS's Software/Hardware Architecture

The technical concept of SORMAS system (see Figure) integrates existing technology and combines it into a mobile application, that allows to transmit notification reports, but also supports the whole management process of contact tracing.

Field workers use mobile devices, such as smartphone, to document acquired information directly in the cloud system. The use of commodity smart phone reduces investments and provisional time. Available devices are registered in the cloud-based device management software SAP Afaria, which enables remote management of devices and user having access to the devices. This enables, for example, to keep device software automatically up-to-date and to track and wipe lost devices to ensure highest levels of data security. The local cellular phone network provider provides data transfer to the Internet. All data exchange is encrypted using latest web standards, e.g. HTTPS protocol. Applications are provided in a Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription model, i.e. all applications are configured, hosted, managed, and updated by the cloud service provider eliminating the need for any local IT management. All provided applications incorporate latest in-memory database technology provided by SAP HANA Computing Platform, which allows storing all data in an encrypted format in the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), a dedicated cloud environment for SAP products. HCP provides a Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment for development of customized applications of the EBOKON10 consortium. Both categories of applications – apps for field workers incorporating mobile devices and apps for management personnel using desktop PCs – share the same platform and data storage, which enables interactive analysis of latest data without the need to export data into a dedicated On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) system.

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