The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014 was a logistical nightmare for medics to tackle. It took a year for wide scale deployment of teams on the ground because of the need to keep people safe. For journalists it posed a host of new problems.
Ebola, as you’ll be aware, is easily spread – so it makes sense to keep the numbers of people travelling to the area at a minimum. Broadcasters wanting to cover the tragedy were faced with a dilemma – to gain access to the affected areas whilst remaining safe AND making sure they weren’t diverting resources away from where they were really needed.
I worked with the BBC’s Branwen Jeffreys to develop an easy way for doctors in West Africa to share their experiences with us. We kitted out a number of medics with small portable camera kits made up of an iPod Touch, a mini tripod and a personal (tie-clip) mic. I came up with a way of feeding the material back to the UK that, hopefully, wouldn’t involve too much work: of course we could have used WeTransfer or any other large file transfer solution to send the video back and this system would be fine if people have time to learn how to do it but we wanted a system that would allow them to have to do nothing. And that’s where Dropbox came in. By setting up the iOS app to automatically upload the contents of the camera roll every time the user went into a wifi area we were able to background-upload all the material we needed – without hassling the doctors who, let’s face it, had better things to do.
This was the first video diary from psychologist Theresa Jones that went out on BBC 5live along with BBC Breakfast News
The second diary – by Dr Alex Kumar – is simply staggering.