Amazon has found a way to turn lemons into lemonade by donating 1,000 of its troubled Fire phones to advancing the mission of a free Ebola prevention app called Ebola Care. Aid workers in West Africa who are combatting the deadly hemorrhagic disease needed the phones to help them snap photos, geotag, and track infected Ebola patients in order to help thwart the virus’ spread.
“The advantage of using the app is to make information visible to decision makers in real time, to allow them to be much more proactive in dealing with the disease,” said Philip Joubert, in an interview with Larry Magid of SiliconValley.com. Philip and his brother Malan are the founders of the free app. But they wouldn’t have been able to carry out the results without additional phones.
Magid suggested the brothers reach out to Amazon, following a meeting with them on the same day that Amazon indicated it had taken a $170 million loss on their experimental Fire phones. So they did, and Amazon agreed.
The app–which runs on both iOS and Android–reportedly works by allowing aid workers to follow the progress of Ebola patients and provide the relevant data to their designated aid organizations. Additionally, Magid writes, Ebola Care records ambulance pickups, monitors their quarantines, tracks their contacts and also keeps tabs on children who have been orphaned by the death or illness of their parents due to the virus. Ebola Care also has a component which aids in educational and outreach efforts for these afflicted youth.
There have reportedly been over 5,000 Ebola-related deaths worldwide to date. Some experts have estimated that the virus could claim up to five million lives by the time the violent disease is fully contained.
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