A huge chunk of the world is missing something crucially important.
IN LIBERIA, finding the Ebola virus is all too easy; it’s already claimed over a thousand lives and is likely to kill many more. But finding and keeping track of particular victims in this West African nation of 4 million, or even of the brave men and women who’ve come to their aid, is proving an unexpected quandary.
If Ebola ever afflicted Boston, physicians would deploy a powerful weapon against it—a street map. They’d pin down the address of each victim, hunt down the source of the infection, and draw up a plan to halt its further spread. It’s a simple, powerful tool of public health. But it only works when the victims have street addresses. And in Liberia, hardly anybody does.
In America, virtually every building has an address—about 153 million of them for our homes, businesses, and government offices. But millions of people in the developing world live in residential areas that have never been thoroughly mapped, and where street addresses have never been issued.