In late 2015, signs of an impending virulent virus caught the attention of a group of colleagues, a climate scientist, a microbiologist with a public health specialty in infectious diseases, and an expert in geographical information systems. That virus was Zika. Collectively, the colleagues decided to identify localities where the Aedes aegypti
mosquito, the vector for the Zika virus, could potentially live, breed, bite, and transmit the virus to humans. Using scientific rigor, they developed an algorithm and built a map based product. The map product updated weekly, and depicted where the conditions were likely suitable for the Aedes aegypti
mosquito. They were not necessarily an indication that the Aedes aegypti
mosquito was actually present in these locations.
What started out as a collegial exercise, ended as a beta test product, accessible through ZikaZoneUSA.com, with the tag line “Be aware and prepare”. The product suite involved a weekly analysis of “environmental conditions” and potential users were advised to “stay informed about the only scientifically-developed map that identifies current Zika Zones across the United States.”
The authors present their journey through data analysis, product and business development, and the final outcomes of the beta test.