In the West African country of Ghana, journalists from the Global Editors Network, which represents more than 1,000 editors-in-chief around the world, are teaming up with local nonprofit PenPlusBytes to sponsor a pair of hack days for Ghana-based journalists, developers, and designers to develop tools aimed at combatting “panic, irrational information, dangerous rumours and uncertified facts” surrounding the ongoing Ebola epidemic.
Dubbed HackAgainstEbola, the project combines approaches taken by the CDC here in the U.S., which created a series of infographics with facts about the disease, and is leveraging GPS cell phone location data to track to track its spread.
“As there are very few smartphones in Africa (only in capitals), the goal is to use SMS functionality on regular cell phones to get citizen engagement,” said Global Editors Network CEO Bertrand Pecquerie via email. “GEN wants to develop prototypes that can be used by all users and not just a minority.”
A $9,000 Indiegogo campaign is currently underway to cover expenses for the two hack days in Accra, Ghana. Global Editors Network is providing some financial support, and the BBC stepped in to produce the video to accompany the campaign. Assuming that HackAgainstEbola turns out to be a success, planning for similar hack days in the nearby countries of Senegal and Nigeria is already underway.
This story has been updated since publication.