Johns Hopkins scientists create disaster planning, flu forecasting apps

In the effort to help hospitals and first-responder organizations, Johns Hopkins scientists have developed three new Web-based software tools designed to assist with disaster preparedness and flu planning.

The apps were developed by research teams at the Johns Hopkins National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER) and are available for free on the PACER applications suite website. They are:

  • EMCAPS 2.0: Allows users to estimate the number and type of casualties that could result from 11 different disasters, including as anthrax, improvised explosive device, open-air explosion, food contamination, toxic gas release, nuclear device explosion, pneumonic plague, and pandemic.

  • Surge: An easy-to-use tool for hospitals, intensive care units, and other clinical units to determine surge capacity and the impact of various surge responses. Inadequate supplies of key resources during a surge event may be critical to patient care, and having a reliable tool to plan ahead could make a big difference.

  • FluCast: A forecasting program designed to help hospital emergency departments, infectious disease experts, and health departments reliably estimate the number of flu patients a specific hospital is likely to see in a given week based on a specific hospital's historical data and data collected by Google Flu Trends.

PACER Director Gabor D. Kelen, the chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says the new apps "should help fill the gap in accessible and reliable technologies" for disaster planners struggling to anticipate the need for supplies and other resources when time is critical.

All of the new PACER apps will be featured at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's University Centers of Excellence Innovation Showcase, to be held today at the Immigration Customs and Enforcement headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Users must register and set up an account profile before gaining access to the new applications.

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