Monday, August 25, 2014

Lost In Space

ArianeSpace has reported, in so many words, that the fifth and sixth satellites in the planned Galileo constellation, Europe's next generation Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), were placed in a wrong orbit. It's the oddest thing. This delays Galileo from achieving what the European Space Agency (ESA) refers to as Operational Capability, which would bring exciting new applications of GPS including 'guiding cars, running trains and landing aircraft'.

Galileo is planned to be the first interactive GPS service. It would be 'interoperable with [USA's] GPS and [Russia's] GLONASS'; would 'deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the metre range'; would 'guarantee availability of the service under all but the most extreme circumstances'; would provide a 'global Search and Rescue function' that would relay distress signals to rescue coordination centres as well as a response informing the user that the signal had been detected and that help was on the way ... and would 'inform users within seconds of any satellite failure'. Unfortunately that last feature is probably working in overdrive at this time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Viral Maps

Three of the leading public health agencies in the Americas  provide data and/ or map the Chikungunya epidemic sweeping across the Caribbean and the continental Americas. The Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) says that 'chikungunya case counts are publicly released every Wednesday', though these could not be found on its website, and provides a static presence/ absence map showing countries where local transmission has been documented.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) provides a weekly report every Friday (usually late in the afternoon) of Chikungunya counts for most countries of the Americas (including the Caribbean) and a static presence/ absence map showing countries with both local and imported cases (travellers to the country). The PAHO map also highlights 'sub-national areas' with local transmission of the virus, e.g. the Divisions of Guarico, Carabobo, Aragua, Vargas and Miranda in Venezuela and the State of Florida in the USA. However it is not known whether the map is intended to communicate that these areas are Chikungunya hotspots within a country.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) provides a weekly report like PAHO, of Chikungunya counts for the 20 CARICOM countries and 11 others, but every Monday, and an interactive map. The CARPHA map has a useful timeline feature illustrating the progression of the disease through the Region and mouseover info boxes showing the number of cases in a country. Both PAHO and CARPHA seems to face issues with old data from at least some countries,