GPHIN works by monitoring global Internet traffic and other forms of communications for talk of illness or other threats to public health in local populations. Much as terrorists are tracked by their web chatter, the beginnings of deadly diseases are discovered through similar surveillance techniques. GPHIN has several times saved the planet from pandemics through early detection and early response to disease outbreaks. In 2003 it was GPHIN that stopped SARS from becoming a global pandemic. In 2010 GPHIN prevented a global outbreak of bird flu with origins in Iran.
GPHIN detected these early outbreaks months ahead of the World Health Organization, which bases detection upon a much slower channel of official government-to-government communications. This is in accordance to Dr. Larry Brilliant, a leading epidemiologist. Just as every second counts in fighting fires, every day counts in fighting infectious diseases.
GPHIN was organized by the Public Health Agency of Canada under the leadership of Ron St. John.
Link to GPHIN website:
Attached is a TED.com lecture on epidemics by Dr. Larry Brilliant.