Ebola: Coverage with an iPod

Helping Doctors Help Reporters

The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is a complete and utter tragedy.  A year on from what appears to be the first case of the disease, medics from European and other countries arrived, en masse, to help out.

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 have found it difficult to go Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia because of this – it’s dangerous for the people involved and takes away resources that are really needed to help fight the spread of the disease – so how can news organisations show what’s happening there?

I’ve been working 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.  Branwen paid for it all!  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 to send the video back – large file transfer works, in effect, like an open ftp that can deliver large files across the internet with the end receiver getting an email link to where the original large video files can be downloaded from.  But this system is fine if people have time and can spare the capacity to learn how to do it.  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, have 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.




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