Google is throwing its weight behind efforts to combat the Zika virus, with new tools, grant money, and some help from the Latin American Sesame Street.
Since November, Google searches related to the mosquito-borne virus have blown up. There has been a 3,000% increase in Zika related searches around the world. On Thursday, the company’s philanthropic organization, Google.org, announced plans to help UNICEF and other organizations fight the virus.
“We … have to find better ways to visualize the threat so that public health officials and NGO’s can support communities at risk,” said Google.org Director Jacquelline Fuller in a blog post announcing the initiative.
Google engineers and data scientists are teaming up with UNICEF to map the spread of the Zika virus and better predict future outbreaks. They are pulling data from sources like the weather and travel patterns and plugging it into a new open source platform that will be available to governments and NGOs.