Mobile Data Calls for Debate

Could researchers tap mobile phone record troves to help save lives? A debate is afoot, and Amy Maxmen exhaustively investigated the pros and cons.
How it works: Anonymized, aggregated records of the origin and timing of texts and calls provide population movement clues that could inform decisions during disasters or disease outbreaks.
Not everyone is on board, citing privacy concerns and limited research resources. “On an intellectual level, this ... is attractive,” says Myaing Nyunt, a Burma-based Duke University malaria researcher, but meanwhile “...actual work is becoming harder to sustain in villages,” including proven methods like bed nets, insecticides and malaria drugs.

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