Computing in Research and Development in Africa: Benefits, Trends, Challenges and Solutions
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When this is the case, it can actually be much safer to keep sensitive information offsite. Of course, this is all very abstract, so let's consider some solid statistics. The key to this amped-up security is the encryption of data being transmitted over networks and stored in databases. By using encryption, information is less accessible by hackers or anyone not authorized to view your data. As an added security measure, with most cloud-based services, different security settings can be set based on the user.
If your current IT solutions are forcing you to commit too much of your attention to computer and data-storage issues, then you aren't going to be able to concentrate on reaching business goals and satisfying customers. On the other hand, by relying on an outside organization to take care of all IT hosting and infrastructure, you'll have more time to devote toward the aspects of your business that directly affect your bottom line.
The cloud offers businesses more flexibility overall versus hosting on a local server. And, if you need extra bandwidth, a cloud-based service can meet that demand instantly, rather than undergoing a complex and expensive update to your IT infrastructure. This improved freedom and flexibility can make a significant difference to the overall efficiency of your organization. Staff with busy schedules, or who live a long way away from the corporate office, can use this feature to keep instantly up to date with clients and co-worker.
Through the cloud, you can offer conveniently accessible information to sales staff who travel, freelance employees, or remote employees, for better work-life balance. Of course, sifting through that data to find these kernels can be very difficult, unless you have access to the right cloud-computing solution.
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Many cloud-based storage solutions offer integrated cloud analytics for a bird's-eye view of your data. With your information stored in the cloud, you can easily implement tracking mechanisms and build customized reports to analyze information organization wide. From those insights, you can increase efficiencies and build action plans to meet organizational goals. After all, there isn't much point to having a team if it is unable to work like a team. Cloud computing makes collaboration a simple process.
Team members can view and share information easily and securely across a cloud-based platform. Some cloud-based services even provide collaborative social spaces to connect employees across your organization, therefore increasing interest and engagement. Collaboration may be possible without a cloud-computing solution, but it will never be as easy, nor as effective.
In a cloud-based system, all documents are stored in one place and in a single format. With everyone accessing the same information, you can maintain consistency in data, avoid human error, and have a clear record of any revisions or updates. Conversely, managing information in silos can lead to employees accidentally saving different versions of documents, which leads to confusion and diluted data. Unfortunately, no matter how in control your organization may be when it comes to its own processes, there will always be things that are completely out of your control, and in today's market, even a small amount of unproductive downtime can have a resoundingly negative effect.
Downtime in your services leads to lost productivity, revenue, and brand reputation. But while there may be no way for you to prevent or even anticipate the disasters that could potentially harm your organization, there is something you can do to help speed your recovery. Cloud-based services provide quick data recovery for all kinds of emergency scenarios, from natural disasters to power outages.
This may not seem like a problem, but the reality is that if your local hardware experiences a problem, you might end up permanently losing your data. The committee's discussion focuses on 10 trends Table 2. These trends interact with and reinforce each other, often further accelerating change and complicating.
TABLE 2. Capacity to deal with large volumes of data and high rates of transmission for today's science demands. Precipitous drop in cost. Holographic and high-density optical memory technology will enter market. Imbedded encryption in numerous products expected to make privacy and security applications manageable. Widespread application of public-key encryption.
Long-term steady growth in ATM applications over high-speed fiber-optic links. Extension of the range of that which can be observed more precision, more spectral range, higher sampling frequency, less calibration effort. New multispectral sensors, improved resolution, smaller and more numerous satellites. Additional terrestrial applications e.
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Increased space and ground remote sensing activity. Broader array of applications. Worldwide access to voice and high-speed data transmission within 5 years. Wireless systems filling in to meet communications needs that ongoing investments in fiber cable or wireline systems have been unable to accommodate. Enhanced capability for computationally intensive science activities e. More expensive fabrication processes expected to cause reduction in supplier alternatives.
Robotics for exploration and for technology data transmission, from or to inaccessible places. Improved autonomy of vehicles for ocean and atmosphere studies and for planetary missions. New frames for small submarines and pilotless aircraft driven in part by military applications ; "downhole" oil, gas, and geologic exploration; micro-electromechanical systems MEMs applications.
Capacity for new sensing and reasoning power, helping machines to do "intelligent" work. Potentially rapid advancement portended by breakthroughs in computation and neural science research. Assistance in getting relevant information to scientists on time. Capability for speakers of different languages to improve collaboration. Improved filtering and organizing of information in response to the WWW information glut.
Many graphical tools have capabilities to deal with special fonts and bit character sets. Limited to "major" language pairs in the near term. Capability to deal with the extremely complex variety of information in natural sciences and medicine; support in organizing relevant, current information. Object-oriented databases entering the market; massively parallel representations e. Widespread use of electronic agents to assist research. New, erbium-based systems expected to reduce power and improve reliability. Dan Hutcheson and Jerry D. Applications include instrumentation within living tissue.
Denniston and Peter K. Each is discussed below, and their actual or potential effect on international scientific data exchange among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD is broadly characterized. The impact of these technical trends on access to scientific data in developing countries is also discussed. The cost of owning and operating increasingly powerful computers has dropped dramatically over the past several decades.
Today's personal computers, for example, offer the processing speed of workstations of fewer than 5 years ago at a fraction of the cost. The availability of information technology products with ever-increasing computing, communication, and storage capability has contributed to the ubiquitous assimilation of computers into modern daily life, and complex applications taking advantage of continually improving computer performance have emerged. One effect of this phenomenon is an opportunity for "technology leapfrogging": late entrants to the use of information technology can enjoy the immediate advantage of low-cost systems, without having had to make earlier investments in more expensive and less capable technologies and then carry the burden of depreciation of that investment.
Modern computing technology is thus increasingly accessible to low-budget endeavors as prices fall also to the press of mass production and competition. Even though the pace of change can be daunting to information technology newcomers, in general it should become easier and cheaper with time to obtain technology to participate in the global sharing of scientific information. In the context of the natural sciences, this means that scientists and other users in developing countries or in economically depressed regions such as those in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are increasingly able to acquire new computing and communications tools for carrying out their work.
The natural sciences produce prodigious amounts of data. Earth observation and weather systems lead the way, with the potential for collecting terabytes 3 per day. The same trends in low-cost microelectronics that are fueling the information and network revolutions also are driving the development of low-cost sensors and relatively low-cost storage systems.
Following Moore's Law, the cost of computing, data storage, and communication has fallen consistently for more than 25 years. Developing countries and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union have, in some cases, been able to acquire modern communications and computing equipment. New users have been able to avoid substantial capital expense and the burden of depreciation of that investment. The collection power of their instruments enables major scientific enterprises such as the Human Genome Project, climate modeling, and satellite remote sensing studies to generate very large volumes of data.
Increasing exploitation of broadband networks and emerging dominance of the video data type in networks. The investment in fiber-optic cable over the past two decades is increasingly being exploited to support demanding new applications with high-capacity or real-time delivery requirements video, medical imaging, large-scale science.
The entertainment industry and new applications such as video teleconferencing, movies on demand, and interactive television have attracted substantial investment and will be the dominant factors in the development of networks in the next 10 years. Voice communication will require a minor share of telecommunications capacity. Wireless networks are rapidly connecting the world in new ways, and at low cost.
Ground-based wireless systems are creating modern infrastructure in cities that have had unreliable phone systems with inadequate capacity. Proposed satellite ventures will provide data and voice connections on a global basis. The Internet was developed to support advanced science and technology activities.
Recent changes in particular, the advent of World Wide Web browsers have transformed the Internet into a tool for a vast array of both commercial and noncommercial applications including shopping, entertainment, education, and general publication. Teams of scientists remote from each other and often in different countries are able to work together on a project, facilitated by high-performance communication for active, real-time interaction with each other using data and other information resources.
Machines using natural language processing techniques are helping to organize the vast amount of information available in electronic form. New tools are providing transparent access via rudimentary machine translation for speakers of the world's major languages. Standards provide the means for interoperability and help to support competition and product evolution.
Recognition of the role of standards whether de facto, industry driven, or supported by formal national or international bodies has grown, further accelerating the acceptance and applications of standards.
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Growing acceptance of a need for cooperation in monitoring and controlling network activity. Mechanisms have been built into authentication systems, retrieval systems, and networks to account for specific activities of users and to support flexible billing systems. Public-key encryption technology is increasingly accepted as a means to protect data and authenticate users. This activity is being driven primarily by the needs of commercial users of the network.
Other observational science and engineering projects 4 involving large-scale models, simulations, or sampling volumes also produce enormous quantities of data. The desire to collect, manage, and preserve scientific information always appears to exceed the financial and technical capabilities to do so, even in the wealthiest nations. Scientific communities must organize themselves better to select information for acquisition and for retention. Wireless communications received a major boost from the effort to develop mobile communications systems in the United States.
Interest and investment also have been stimulated by the possibility of creating competition in local telephone service, heretofore a year monopoly. Moreover, the end of the Cold War has forced aerospace companies to seek new markets for satellite technology, including direct-broadcast television and satellite-based cellular telephony. Wireless communications links are being installed worldwide, enabling mobile communication—and, for developing countries and other nations with historically weak telecommunications infrastructure and rapid growth, avoidance of much of the capital cost of a wired communication infrastructure.
New competition will drive down the cost of telephony and offer new applications. Video broadcast from space or from fixed terrestrial sites may offer new ways to deliver data in interactive communications systems. Commercial providers believe that new applications such as video conferencing, interactive television, and the ability to access movies on demand from a large archive will be the dominant factors in the development of networks over the next 10 years.
Voice communications will require an ever smaller share of telecommunications capacity. The widely discussed convergence of personal computers and television has been accelerated through the widespread licensing of new tools for interactive World Wide Web WWW applications and through emerging standards by which cable television companies can provide high-speed Internet access.
Much of this activity is driven by the goal of providing interactive access to large video databases in "real time" at least 1 megabit per second. In the short term, however, the impact of high-bandwidth applications will be negative especially for high-data-rate users in OECD countries , since the need for higher bandwidth has already been outpacing bandwidth improvements, both on major backbone networks and on bridges between them see the section below titled ''Specific Technical Concerns".
The international public infrastructure for data communications is built around the Internet. Originally developed in the United States by the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies to support scientific and technical collaboration, 6 the Internet now serves a much wider range of purposes.
In recent years, it has become a high-visibility source of entertainment as well as an indispensable tool for many commercial and noncommercial applications e. Advertisers use the Internet to promote themselves and their wares as "high tech" and, moreover, view the current demographics of Internet users who have disposable incomes that are typically much higher than average as extremely favorable. In , the total number of commercial ". For example, the percentage of Web sites on the Internet running from the ".
This trend toward commercial use of the Internet could have a significant impact on the scientific community. What has been until now a government-subsidized activity could become a significant cost factor to scientists as networks become privatized. Further, the scientific community originally played a major role in developing the technologies and standards for the Internet, but this is no longer the case.
Scientific activity will have to follow and potentially benefit from or suffer because of the standards and pace set by others. Scientists are increasingly aware of the importance of information technologies that facilitate collaborative work. In recent years, electronic mail e-mail systems, mailing lists, and bulletin boards have enabled rapid information sharing among groups of people distributed throughout the world.
Other commercially available computer-based tools and technologies have enhanced collaborative work by facilitating cooperative research involving, for example, the use of remote instruments, and electronic data publishing that speeds the dissemination of research results. In addition to the purely technical issues raised by these requirements, however, the research agenda for creating such "collaboratories" must address fundamental psychosocial questions.
Desktop video conferencing is a next logical step in the use of collaborative tools and may be as widely available within 10 years as e-mail is currently, provided that adequate bandwidth can be supplied. The low cost of desktop video conferencing equipment and the ability to operate over a variety of media types will enable scientists who have access to these technologies to communicate more readily. These types of technologies can help improve the efficiency of scientific fieldwork, especially in remote areas, but only if they are supported by links with sufficiently high bandwidth. Investment in commercial products that support information sharing and workflow has accelerated as vendors recognize the importance of multiuser support to acquiring and sustaining market share.
Natural language processing has been an active branch of artificial intelligence for decades. Recent approaches and products have significantly improved automated document subject classification. Users can now gain more rapid access to a wider base of scientific information.
More advanced products from the U. These new tools accelerate work by reducing the volume of information that needs to be evaluated. Slow but steady advances in machine translation are already beginning to produce acceptable levels of quality for some applications. New applications in handwriting and voice recognition as well as voice synthesis promise to bring the world's information resources within reach of many who previously had been excluded because of language differences or disability.
The development of new language-processing capabilities is increasingly important as the historical dominance of English in data networks gives way to multilingual communications. The ability to perform automated language translation, though still crude, facilitates global data and information access by helping users with native languages other than English to participate in scientific activities.
Although current investment is limited to a small number of the languages most widely used for political and economic purposes e. Some databases, such as the European Dictionaire Automatique, have been developed explicitly to facilitate machine translation and semantic analysis. Standards play a major role in the evolution of telecommunication networks because of the importance of interoperability of these networks, which also must provide for continuous paths for improvement without disruption of existing infrastructure.
In computing, vendors put substantial effort into proprietary approaches to protect market share. But the U. IBM's decision to make the PC an open, standard product provided another major force toward standardization in computing. Standards for products and for the representation of information have advanced rapidly over the last decade. Companies still use proprietary approaches to gain short-term market advantages,. Sun's Java language is an interesting example of a company-sponsored effort that is becoming a standard through rapid expansion of licensing agreements.
Other examples include, among many others, the widespread application of HTML. Technical standards increase competition and product availability, while reducing price. The downside is that standards themselves evolve and can contribute to a kind of industry-driven obsolescence. Also, when multiple standards apply in the same area, buyers are forced to try to choose prospective winners and losers recall the battle for consumer support of the Beta and VHS standards.
Within the scientific disciplines, there is increased attention to system interoperability in terms of both data and software. In the astronomy community, for example, the interchange of data has become fairly simple because of effective coordination in the United States and internationally. Radio astronomers developed a voluntary standard format for data interchange the flexible image transport system; FITS that was widely adopted in the astronomy community during the s.
This standard is maintained by an international committee, with support from several organizations, including NASA. There are related standard formats for planetary data, as well as a trend toward the development and adoption of a few comprehensive data analysis systems that could be used with a variety of types of astronomical data from different observatories and instruments and different subdisciplines. Sharing of analysis software and commercially developed computing tools among the different systems is encouraged.
Of course, the need for standards for effective data exchange is not confined to telecommunications, computer languages, and storage media. Even within a narrow discipline or subdiscipline, true data exchange with proper interpretation of numbers, symbols, words, and graphics depends on standards for data structures, database management systems, and even terminology.
The rapid growth in networks over the last 15 years has led to the need for appropriate levels of cooperative monitoring and control. Initial ad hoc activity in developing protocols such as SNMP has given way to more elaborate standards and tools today. Authentication systems, retrieval systems, and networks can now account for specific activities of users and can support flexible billing systems. Public-key encryption technology is increasingly accepted as a means of protecting data and authenticating users.
Such developments are being driven by needs associated with the network as a market place. Several implementations of the proposed standard are now available. The ATM forum 18 is leading much of the work in this area. We are seeing this occurring in more and more towns and cities and it is a very positive development for cities, for infrastructure development and for democracy. Even in autocracies there is always room for citizens to organise and thereby secure services or rights that they have been denied. The final, essential, component is political will.
This has been conspicuously lacking, but more determined and competent mayors and city leaders are emerging and the power of example is considerable. The majority of Africans will live in towns and cities by Management consultancies and international financiers routinely claim that rapid urbanisation is one of the great pluses in the investment case for Africa. As things stand, this is hyperbolic nonsense. For towns and cities to drive economic growth and livelihood improvement, more imaginative and effective urban planning and management are imperative; and the provision of public goods must replace a narrow focus on the wellbeing of elites.
Automation — as we move towards automated, electric vehicles, need to consider the effect on employment and wider implications of how we access mobility. Travelling on busy roads at peak hours could become the preserve of those who can afford to pay — how does that affect commuting etc; how will this change urban planning etc.
AI — automated vehicles are one application of AI but what are the wider implications for employment need for universal basic income? Many extoll the potential of technology to overcome that problem. Whatever technology may accomplish, we will still need to think about how space is used: automated and ride-sharing vehicles take up as much room as regular cars, whether they're on the road or parked off the street. Going into the future, urban space still needs to be designed to maximize places for people to congregate, which are key to building social connections, fostering a sense of belonging, and encouraging community efficacy.
Space for human connection is often not considered at all against technological solutions in cities. Without the design of places to support a social dimension, cities will not thrive regardless of how much technology we attempt to integrate, design for, and adopt. Public health outcomes increase when isolation diminishes and people connect.
We save billions in environmental costs if we plan for places that encourage people to spend time outside. We even reduce economic limitations in labor markets when we plan for places that allow people to shorten their commute distances and have access to stores, schools, and other daily services. It's always fun to consider panaceas that can theoretically solve age-old problems in this case, growing populations with increasing travel needs.
However, not nearly enough attention is given to the social impacts of these new solutions. We must carefully consider how they may change the physical shape and design of our cities in the future. Most importantly, we must be aware of how they might isolate us. After all, by limiting our ability to socialize, technology may only generate new problems to replace the ones it "solved.
Nicholas Agar, professor of ethics at the Victoria University of Wellington Recent advances in gene editing suggest a future in which we can radically upgrade human genomes. But a rush to enhance ourselves may erase aspects of our humanity that proper reflection reveals as valuable. Proper reflection on what about us we might want to preserve takes time — it should draw on a wide range of perspectives about what it means to be human.
Luke Alphey, visiting professor, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford Agricultural pest insects, and mosquitoes transmitting diseases, are long-standing problems for which we still have no satisfactory solution, indeed the problems are becoming more pressing. Modern genetics can potentially provide powerful new means for controlling these ancient enemies with greater effectiveness and precision — for example minimal off-target effects on the environment — than currently-used methods.
Gene drives are just one aspect of this, but perhaps encapsulate some of the issues. One gene drive system, involving inserting into mosquito cells a large amount of foreign to the mosquito DNA in the form of an intracellular bacterium Wolbachia , has entered field trials in several countries. Potential applications of genetic methods in public health and conservation biology, for example, have very little in common with GM crops; lumping them together risks poor debate, poor policy and — in my view — potential delay or loss of huge human and environmental benefits.
Genetics and health care play a role, but social, environmental, and behavioral factors have far greater impact on the whole health of a population. Some examples of social service investments include job training, supportive housing, and nutritional support — all of which have traditionally had an underestimated focus of attention. Health and social services should be better integrated toward the achievement of common metrics, like lower rates of smoking, obesity, and depression. More research is needed, to measure the health care cost savings of early childhood education or income support programs, and to identify the most sustainable integrated models.
A challenge moving forward is how to best engage the public with this fundamental science that really can positively impact human life and the world we live in.
The GRIN technologies — the genetics, robotics, information and nano revolutions — are advancing on a curve. Meanwhile, we humans are trying to process this exponential change with our good old v. With precious little help at all from those creating this upheaval. Folk are not stupid. They can clearly detect the ground moving beneath their feet, and that of their children and jobs and futures. When the ground moves beneath her feet, any sane primate looks for something apparently solid to hold onto. So what are we doing?
These guys are not stupid. Humans require meaning as surely as food. The days when scientists could not [care] about the impact of their work on cultural, values and society are over. Are you intentionally trying to create supermen? Fix it. Get out of your silo.
Information and communication technologies for development - Wikipedia
And then invite the most interesting ones into your lab with the goal of them becoming partners. One example of this was the scientist who was spending her life finding the biomarkers for a disease for which there was no cure. Mercifully, her lab was among the first to start systematically bringing in partners from entirely outside. Might it be possible for you to find it interesting to search for a biomarker for a disease to which there is a cure? Culture moves slower than does innovation.
Deal with it, or watch the collapse of the Enlightenment as they ever increasingly come at you with torches and pitchforks — and correctly so. Mary Shelley knew her humans. My wife and I used to raise border collies. Border collies make terrible pets. You can not give an intelligent species nothing to do. And you may not like it. Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations 1. Greatest frustration: It is deeply annoying and vexing that CRISPR-cas9 and other gene editing techniques are being applied to treatment of rare diseases and a host of pharmacology development, but little investment is directed toward application of state-of-the-art gene editing or metagenomic sequencing and detection for point-of-care diagnostics creation.
There are many exciting developments at the lab bench level that could translate into "Star Trek"-like abilities to wade into epidemic hysteria and swiftly identify who is infected, and with what organism. There are even innovations that allow identification on-the-spot of infections with previously unknown microbes, based on conserved genetic regions found in classes of viruses or bacteria.
But nobody seems interested in bankrolling such game-changing innovations for production on a mass scale. It's a market failure issue — a where's-the-profits problem. If Ebola broke out somewhere tomorrow we are better off today in that some methods for quickly identifying the virus in blood samples exist, but even now they remain noncommercial, require a laboratory and have no relevance to real-world conditions.
In some in the national security community were obsessed with concern about gain-of-function research, mainly on flu viruses. Researchers were deliberately creating forms of H5N1 and H7N9 and H1N1 that could be passed mammalmammal, probably human-to-human. The goal on researchers' parts was to understand what genetic switches had to occur to turn a bird flu into a potentially catastrophic human airborne transmissible pandemic strain.
But of course the work was very dangerous — especially if it got into the wrong hands. That was then, this is now: The technology of gene modification is far more advanced, and application of cutting edge gene excision and incision techniques makes gain-of-function work potentially far easier, and more dangerous. The two governments that were taking the lead on dual-use research of concern issues UK and US are both preoccupied now with very different problems and new leadership.
And the WHO was the lead global agency — it is facing a major leadership change. So we have no guidance regarding how governments are likely to view these issues. But many common infections are becoming more difficult to treat because bacteria are becoming resistant to the drugs available. Drug-resistant infection — or antimicrobial resistance — is a very serious health threat to us all.
Already it results in around , deaths a year globally. Within a generation it could be 10 million; it could mean we can no longer safely carry out not only complex, lifesaving treatments such as chemotherapy and organ transplants but also more routine operations like caesareans and hip replacements. More needs to be done to improve our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent drug resistant infections and to speed up development of new antibiotics to replace those no longer effective in protecting us against deadly infections. However, the gains of these new technologies are being captured by a minority of the population both domestically and internationally.
One outcome is human migration which is not only political but also economic and social. The other is the more frequent outbreaks of diseases, epidemics and pandemics such as ebola, MARS and Zika. In a world where there is a sentiment against movement of goods and people, how can developing societies adapt to increasing inequalities and build systems of governance to ensure human security? Pardis Sabeti, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard University The recent Ebola and Zika epidemics exposed our global vulnerabilities to deadly microbial threats and highlighted the need for proactive measures in advance of outbreaks and swift action during them.
At the same time it shows our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat deadly infectious diseases through new technologies. It is a time of great potential for devastation or advancement for one of the greatest challenges of our lifetimes.
Computing in Research and Development in Africa
Robert Sparrow, adjunct professor, Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University What does justice require of wealthy Northern states when confronted by mass migration from increasingly impoverished Southern countries as a result of accelerating climate change? As technological developments increasingly drive social change, how can democratic societies empower ordinary people to have a say in the decisions that shape the technological trajectories that will in turn determine what the future looks like? How can the public have meaningful input into the character of the algorithms that will increasingly determine both the nature of their relationships with other people on social media and their access to various important social goods?
How can we prevent an underwater arms race involving autonomous submersibles over the coming decades? How can we ensure that questions about meaning and values, and not just calculations of risks and benefits, are addressed in decisions about human genome editing? Eric Topol, Scripps Transatlantic Science Institute Our major challenge is related to our new capability of digitizing human beings. But the problem is that this generates many terabytes of data, which includes real-time streaming of key metrics like blood pressure.
Aggregating and processing the data, derived from many sources, with algorithms and artificial intelligence particularly deep learning is a daunting task. Mike Turner, Head of Infection and Immunobiology at Wellcome Trust Infectious disease outbreaks are a growing threat to health and prosperity in our modern world. Vast amounts of international travel, increasing urbanisation and a changing climates means that viruses can cross borders and spread around the globe faster than ever before.
Recent outbreaks like Sars, Ebola and Zika have all shown how unprepared the world is to deal with epidemics.