Helping combat the Liberian Ebola outbreak

Most students’ first days of class are spent reviewing syllabi, getting to know their classmates and feeling out instructors. In assistant professor Steven King’s “Design and Development of Mobile Apps” course in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, however, this semester’s students went straight to work brainstorming how to visually represent statistics of Liberia’s Ebola crisis.

The result: ebolainliberia.org, a project requested by Liberia’s Minister of Information Lewis Brown to help the country strategically contain the outbreak. The Liberian Ministry of Information announced the resource during a Sept. 8 news conference.

Ebolainliberia.org, which can also be accessed at ebolainliberia.info, is a mobile-first website and a single resource for accurate and actionable real-time information about the Ebola crisis in Liberia. It serves Liberian healthcare workers, Liberian and world citizens, international journalists, and even the Liberian president.

The site contains graphs that include cumulative total cases of Ebola and cumulative total deaths as a result of Ebola. A map feature gives site users a color-coded view of number of cases and deaths by Liberian county.

The hope is the site will help Liberian officials make better-informed decisions to help contain the spread of Ebola while providing the public with a transparent view of the country’s Ebola statistics.

“This project has been rewarding in so many ways,” said King. “Frustrating, but rewarding, knowing that we’re hopefully helping to ease a pretty scary situation in Liberia and knowing that our students can affect this kind of change through this kind of work.”

Read full article.