DARPA seeks model to forecast fast-moving virus

Shutterstock image: mosquito sucking blood.

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus currently threatening the Caribbean. Cases have also been reported in Florida.

WHAT: A $150,000 prize for the most accurate model charting the spread of chikungunya.

WHYChikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus plaguing the Caribbean, isn't deadly. But it is spreading fast, and there is no vaccine or treatment. Late last year, the virus began showing up in the western hemisphere for the first time, taking hold in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other island nations. More recently, cases have been reported in Central and South America, as well as in Florida.

DARPA issued a $150,000 challenge to build a model that accurately charts the path of the chikungunya virus through the Americas. Participants will submit a description of their model and data sources by Sept. 1 of this year, along with an initial forecast. The forecast will be augmented by monthly submissions updating predictions for the spread of the virus, with a final report including a complete methodology due Feb. 1, 2015. Progress on the model will be tracked via an online leaderboard.

The hope is that a successful forecasting model will help predict the spread of future outbreaks not just of chikungunya, but other diseases as well. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa points to the urgent need for information on the transmission of infectious disease.

A successful model will have to take into account weather and temperature patterns, mosquito population, insect eradication efforts, human demographics and other factors. DARPA hopes cross-disciplinary teams including mathematicians, epidemiologists, computer scientists, entomologists, meteorologists and other experts will come together to work on the challenge.

"The science of forecasting is a work in progress. It's akin to trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing and a vague sketch of what the finished image should look like," DARPA program manager Col. Matthew Hepburn said in a statement.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:54 AM


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.