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 

2015-10-9: Big Data may stream­line epidemic contro

Healthcare-in-europe published an article about SORMAS. Read it on their website!

2015-9-9: A Helmholtz Portrait of Gérard Krause

The Helmholtz Association published a portrait of Gérard Krause. Read it on their website!

2015-6-30: diginomica on SORMAS

Diginomica published an article about SORMAS. Read it on their website!

2015-5-1: The aerzteblatt on SORMAS

The aerzteblatt published an article about SORMAS. Read it on their website!

2015-04-30: SORMAS at YouTube

Have a look at the YouTube Video to learn more about SORMAS:

2015-04-28: SORMAS in the Media

In March 2015, SORMAS was presented at CeBit in Hannover. Several news paper reported about the project. Some of them are: 

PNN, 16.03.2015

HPI stellt Anti-Epidemien App auf der Cebit vor, 17.03.2015

App soll im Kampf gegen tödliche Epidemien und Ebola helfen, 18.03.2015

Ebola: German Institute plans technology pilots in Nigeria

e-government-computing, 19.03.2015

Ausbreitung soll durch SORMAS kontrolliert werden: Mit Apps und Big Data gegen gefährliche Epidemien

Ärztezeitung, 23.03.2015

IT-System soll Ebola-Ausbreitung künftig stoppen

Springerprofessional, 25.03.2015 / Tagesspiegel, 16.03.2015

Phänomene der Big Data Hybrids - Eine App gegen Epidemien

Berufsverband der Hygieneinspektoren, 04/2015

Big Data im Dienste der Seuchen-Bekämpfung 

2015-04-16: The SORMAS project consortium published a first paper on the development process at the Eurosurveillance Journal

In the context of controlling the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD), the World Health Organization claimed that ‘critical determinant of epidemic size appears to be the speed of implementation of rigorous control measures’, i.e. immediate follow-up of contact persons during 21 days after exposure, isolation and treatment of cases, decontamination, and safe burials. We developed the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Management System (SORMAS) to improve efficiency and timeliness of these measures. We used the Design Thinking methodology to systematically analyse experiences from field workers and the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) after successful control of the EVD outbreak in Nigeria. We developed a process model with seven personas representing the procedures of EVD outbreak control. The SORMAS system architecture combines latest In-Memory Database (IMDB) technology via SAP HANA (in-memory, relational database management system), enabling interactive data analyses, and established SAP cloud tools, such as SAP Afaria (a mobile device management software). The user interface consists of specific front-ends for smartphones and tablet devices, which are independent from physical configurations. SORMAS allows real-time, bidirectional information exchange between field workers and the EOC, ensures supervision of contact follow-up, automated status reports, and GPS tracking. SORMAS may become a platform for outbreak management and improved routine surveillance of any infectious disease. Furthermore, the SORMAS process model may serve as framework for EVD outbreak modelling.

Citation style: Fähnrich C, Denecke K, Adeoye OO, Benzler J, Claus H, Kirchner G, Mall S, Richter R, Schapranow MP, Schwarz N, Tom-Aba D, Uflacker M, Poggensee G, Krause G. Surveillance and Outbreak Response Management System (SORMAS) to support the control of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. Euro Surveill. 2015;20(12):pii=21071. Available online:

2015-02-23: Table Top Prototype Test of SORMAS

The project team ran a first Table Top Prototype Test of SORMAS during a five day workshop in Potsdam. In addition to the EBOKON 10 consortium, six field epidemiologists with first hand practical experience in the response to the current Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria participated in the exercise. They confirmed the validity of the overall concept and architecture and were able to contribute valuable details for further improvement of SORMAS. The SAP-RTSA developer team form USA also participated in the workshop and thus immediately implemented a major part of the identified modifications. Likewise the HPI team ran various user tests of the mobile interphase of SORMAS. Part of the workshop was also dedicated to develop process models of epidemic prone disease other than Ebola, such as Cholera, Avian influenza H5N1 in humans and Measles.

Mr. Alfred Grannas, representative of the German Ministry of External Affairs, attended parts of the workshop to assess the applicability of SORMAS for the management of outbreaks and other emergencies.

13. Februar 2015, Potsdam, Deutschland, HPI, Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Universitaeres Exzellenz-Center für IT-Systems Engineering

2015-01-26: SORMAS Prototype Test from Feb. 11-13, 2015

A prototype test of SORMAS – Surveillance & Outbreak Response Management System for the current Ebola outbreak will take place from February 11-13, 2015 in Potsdam. During this workshop we will evaluate together colleagues from Nigeria and other healthcare organisations current features of SORMAS and directly incorporate the collected feedback into the development process. The prototype test will be a table-top test using SORMAS. Participants will be exposed to two different mathematically modelled EVD scenarios during which participants will take specific roles (personas) for conducting Ebola outbreak control tasks using SORMAS on different devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

2014-12-03: The complexity of contact tracing

As a first important step, the EBOKON10 partners collected information on the contact tracing process in Nigeria. Field workers that were involved in the Nigerian Ebola outbreak, provided their experience and recaptured the processes. Multiple stakeholders (personas) who are involved in contact tracing were identified (see figure) with their roles in the process, information needs and requirements towards our contact tracing and management tool. As a result, process models have been generated that reflect and structure the whole process. It will form the basis for the application development.

Multiple persons are involved in the contact tracing process. We identified different personas and collected their roles and tasks in the process.
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