INSTEDD: pre-TED2006 outline of Larry Brilliant's proposal

Bruno Giussani posted an email outline of Larry Brilliant’s INSTEDD proposal [International Networked System for Total Early Disease Detection]:

UPDATE 19 April 06 – Here is something Larry Brilliant wrote a few weeks before TED2006 describing his vision for what he later called INSTEDD, for International Networked System for Total Early Disease Detection (this text was sent a few days ago by TED curator Chris Anderson to a few thousand people in the TED mailing list). I’m reproducing it here because it’s a powerful vision, and because it offers a few more details that are not in the texts above:

I’ve been in conversations with WHO, CDC, Johns Hopkins and the other universities from the Pandefense “consortium” about using the prize – and the TED community – to build a virtual earth, with

multiple webcrawlers


comparative historical databases

hi-res coordinated satellite photography

IM and text messaging

several other IP based systems

for the earliest possible detection of new outbreaks of bird flu, novel diseases like SARS and ebola, as well as new emerging biological threats, whether bio-terror or bio-error – and extending to famine, flood, natural disasters, chemical and industrial spills, forced migration and other catastrophes where time is of the essence in responding.

The world would not today be playing catch up with new pandemics if we had such a system in place 30 years ago; governments would not be able to hide cases of bird flu or genocide, they would not be able to delay reporting cases of polio and the world would have an entirely different view of emerging new communicable diseases if such a system were operative.

I don’t know if you know that SARS was first discovered by a group in Canada following up on reports from a webcrawler about cases of fever, even though the first cases were in China. The system they used, GPHIN (Global Public Health Intelligence Network) is a courageous Canadian government-owned system which crawls newspapers, websites, and public documents in only half a dozen languages. I would like to use the resources of the TED community to produce a “GPHIN on steroids” that would crawl 150 languages, be fully open source, transparent, and a trusted system, openly available to anyone especially at country and local level in the concerned countries, and at universities…

Latest news, Google, the Omidyar Foundation and VC firm Kleiner Perkins have pledged support, and many individuals around the world have done the same (there is room for more).

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