In a pioneering program announced by the Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with the Ghanaian government, mobile data from its 8.7 million customers in Ghana will be used to help monitor and control future epidemics such as Ebola. The anonymized mobile data will be used to track population movement, based on the level of activity at each mobile phone mast, to determine where people are and how far are they moving.
This will then be used to create a model of how the infection is spreading, and will be passed onto other departments so that resources can be allocated more efficiently, and to identify any areas that are at risk of a new outbreak.
This program could potentially save thousands of lives by containing any outbreaks and allocating resources with greater efficiency. Though this data is being used to look after the health of the nation, and will be anonymised and aggregated, it raises further questions about how public data is obtained and used without explicit consent.