Largest Health Survey Ever Conducted via Mobile Phones Nominated for Top Honour for ‘Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development’
MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS – February 16, 2010 – Telefónica Mexico and Myriad Group AG, in partnership with the Mexican Federal Ministry of Health and researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, today announced that their combined effort in conducting a H1N1 flu survey via mobile phones has been named a finalist for ‘Best Use of Mobile for Social and Economic Development’ at the GSM Association 2010 Global Mobile Awards. With more than 56,000 responses from Telefónica subscribers collected in just one day, the survey set a revolutionary benchmark in using mobile technology to analyze the spread of epidemic disease.
“The outbreak of H1N1 flu was the largest public health challenge in recent Mexican history,” said Fabian Bifaretti, CEO of Telefónica Mexico. “Telefónica and Myriad provided a timely and highly relevant service to the community, with the unprecedented scale of the survey dataset proving extremely valuable to the many scientists seeking to understand the epidemic potential of this virus.”
This year’s GSMA Awards attracted more than 500 companies in 18 categories, resulting in a fierce competition among innovative mobile services and breakthrough technologies. Telefónica and Myriad are one of 6 finalists in their category, which includes initiatives by leading network operators from the Middle East and Africa, Google and the United Nations World Food Program.
The Global Mobile Awards are one of the highlights of the annual GSMA Mobile World Congress, the world’s leading event for the mobile communications industry. More than 50 thousand professionals from the mobile industry are attending the congress in Barcelona this week.
Attending the award ceremony today in Barcelona, Cecilia Vega, Marketing Director at Telefónica Mexico, said, “This recognition is a great honour for Telefónica and Myriad. We are delighted that our shared commitment to mobile services innovation enabled us to deliver this unique project.”
How the Survey Was Developed and Deployed
In May 2009, the Mexican Federal Ministry of Health required robust data on H1N1 symptoms and how the virus was spreading, in order to respond quickly and effectively to the flu outbreak. Working with the Harvard School of Public Health, Telefónica proposed and coordinated a short survey that could be delivered to a large number of citizens – asking respondents to identify whether they had various symptoms of the flu and their severity.
The H1N1 survey was distributed to Telefónica phone users nationwide, with special focus in Mexico City and San Luis Potosi, which were identified as major infection outbreak areas by the Ministry, as well as Monterrey and Cancún. Subscribers initially received a text message asking them to enter a short code to participate in the survey. The thousands of respondents that elected to participate then answered a fully-automated questionnaire built on Myriad’s self-care services platform, a system that Telefónica Mexico uses to automate support and deliver top-ups for its more than 18 million customers. This is the first time such mobile phone-based research has been carried out in Mexico, and the largest health survey ever conducted anywhere via mobile phones.
The six-question survey asked participants if they had symptoms of the H1N1 flu and, if so, their nature and severity. The information obtained was processed and analysed in coordination with senior scientists at Harvard University, all seeking to understand the speed of transmission and symptoms of the disease in order to prevent a large-scale infection.
“Myriad’s solution allowed us to exploit our mobile network to provide a vital public service,” said Sergio Chueca Burgueño, Director of Value Added Services at Telefónica Mexico. “We were able to create and deploy the survey in only a few days and had an incredible response from subscribers.”
“More than 6% of the total users who received the request answered the questionnaire, which is 3 times more than our initial expectations,” added Chueca. “This deployment neatly illustrates how phones can be used to track infection outbreaks and allow government agencies to respond most effectively.”
“The most vital element in this project was speed of deployment,” said Steve Langkamp, Chief Commercial Officer of Myriad. “The epidemic wasn’t going to wait for the technology to arrive, but fortunately, Telefónica’s investment in services innovation made it the only network operator in Mexico ready to deliver a survey on this scale.”
The H1N1 survey was deployed on Myriad’s self-care platform, which Telefónica Mexico purchased in 2007. More than 30 network operators now use this Myriad solution to enable mobile users to check their account balance, recharge their prepaid subscription, purchase ringtones and WiFi access codes, and other interactive services. Telefónica is the first operator to use the platform for a health survey.
“We are delighted that Myriad’s technology and team have helped Telefónica pioneer the use of mobile phones to support the public health of our country,” added Vega.
About Telefónica Mexico
Telefónica is a leader in product and service innovation. It runs all of its operations under the Movistar brand in 13 countries worldwide.
Since it opened operations in Mexico, Movistar has made a name for itself by offering the best communication solutions for its prepaid, contract and business subscribers. Telefónica México currently has 18 million clients nationwide.
Myriad Group AG is a global leader in mobile technology and has shipped software in more than 2 billion devices. Its comprehensive portfolio includes browsers, messaging, Java, social networking, user interfaces and middleware for all types of mobile phones, from ultra-low cost handsets to advanced smartphones.
The company provides both individual components and complete solutions, which enable handset manufacturers and operators to deliver amazing experiences on mobile phones. Myriad also develops USSD-based customer self-care platforms that deliver over 10 billion messages a year to 220 million mobile users across more than 30 mobile operators worldwide.
Myriad was created from the combination of industry-leading companies, Esmertec and Purple Labs. It operates worldwide, with offices in Switzerland, France, UK, USA, Mexico, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Australia. Headquartered in Dübendorf-Zürich Switzerland, Myriad is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (SIX Symbol: MYRN). For more information, visit www.myriadgroup.com.
Contacts: Telefónica México
Isabel Suárez Mier
Director, Communications and Institutional Relations
Telephone: + 52 (55) 5516-7588
Tel: +44 1252 518932