Since last year, the Zika virus has ravaged through South America and there are now cases of it popping up around the world. Google is aiding the fight against the outbreak by expanding search results and creating a new mapping tool. Additionally, the company has pledged $1 million to UNICEF.
Google Search on desktop and mobile already shows detailed cards with descriptions and drawings for over 900 health conditions. Those searching for Zika in 16 languages will now see extensive information including symptoms and Public Health Alerts that will constantly be updating. Additionally, Google is leveraging YouTube and working with popular creators across Latin America (like Sesame Street) to raise awareness about prevention.
A more ambitious effort involves creating an open source platform to identify the risk of Zika transmission in various regions to help inform governments and other organizations how to best spend their time and resources. Currently, a volunteer team of Google engineers, designers, and data scientists are working with UNICEF to build a tool that visualizes potential outbreaks by processing weather, travel patterns, and other data sources. Such a tool could also be used in future medical outbreaks.
Google’s $1 million grant to UNICEF will help raise widespread awareness, reduce mosquito populations, and support diagnosing and vaccine development. Additionally, the company has launched a donations matching campaign for Googlers aimed at providing an additional $500,000 to UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization.