Big Motive behind BBC Pandemic Mobile app

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  • We want to let you know about a groundbreaking, ambitious and potentially life-saving citizen science event, commissioned by the BBC, which is set to launch on 27th September and will appear in a feature-length documentary in early 2018.

    One hundred years ago an outbreak of Spanish Flu was responsible for killing up to 100 million people globally. Today, a pandemic influenza still tops the UK Government Civilian Risk Register.

    Key to containing the spread of any infectious disease is understanding how it might spread. Mathematical modellers use data on how we travel and interact with each other to build ‘dynamic epidemic maps’ which predict how a disease may spread through a population and inform health policy and emergency response plans.

    UCL mathematician Dr Hannah Fry is launching BBC Pandemic - a free mobile phone app which will collect a new gold standard dataset with the aim of improving the accuracy of these models.

    From 27th September, anyone with a smartphone will be able to download the BBC Pandemic app for free from Google Play and the App Store. Contributions to this major citizen science event are entirely anonymous. The App will use GPS technology to track users’ approximate location (to the nearest km squared) over a period of 24 hours. At the end of the 24 hours, users will be asked about who they interacted with during this time.

    If 10,000 people take part, a new gold standard data set will be achieved, an invaluable resource for infectious disease modellers. We’re inviting people of all ages living across the UK to take part in a citizen science event that gives them the power to help protect our society against future pandemics, without even trying.

    BBC Pandemic has been commissioned as part of a feature-length science film for BBC Four presented by Dr Hannah Fry and Dr Javid Abdelmoneim which is being produced by 360 Production. It will be broadcast in early 2018, commemorating the centenary anniversary of the lethal Spanish Flu pandemic.

    The project is being undertaken in collaboration with researchers at the University of Cambridge and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This will be the first-ever virtual life-saving pandemic.

    More information can be found on our website: www.bbc.co.uk/pandemic

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