Google today announced new initiatives aimed at curbing the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil and Latin America with enhanced mapping data and more detailed online information about the mosquito-borne virus.
In a blog post published today, the search giant announced that it has partnered with UNICEF to create an open source platform that can be used to map the spread of Zika and identify potential outbreaks. The tool gathers data from a range of sources, including travel and weather patterns, which Google says could help governments and aid organizations to allocate their resources more efficiently. Google also announced a $1 million grant for UNICEF, which will go toward mosquito eradication, vaccine development, and awareness campaigns.
The company is launching a web-based campaign, as well, aimed at providing internet users with more comprehensive information on the virus. Search results on Zika are now available in 16 languages, Google announced today, including information on symptoms associated with Zika and public health alerts. In addition to its search efforts, Google has partnered with YouTube creators and channels, including Sesame Street, to help spread information on Zika prevention through the video-sharing site. The company says it has seen a 3000 percent increase in search interest around Zika since October 2015, as visualized in the map below.
The Zika outbreak was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization last month. The virus has spread rapidly across the Americas, and experts say as many as 4 million people could be infected by the end of the year. There is evidence that Zika may be linked to birth defects and a rare neurological disorder, though scientists are still working to determine how the virus works.