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Posts Tagged ‘public health’

Mining Social Media to Track Outbreaks

outbreakWith the instant spread of information through social media, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) now has a new way to track the outbreak and spread of diseases, including this year’s deadly flu epidemic. According to Richard Quartertone, health communication specialist at CDC’s Division of Notifiable Diseases and Healthcare Information, as quoted by FCW:

“The CDC uses a variety of surveillance methods to track the spread of disease. They include longstanding techniques such as monitoring hospital emergency room visits, performing laboratory tests and conducting population surveys. Now, epidemiologists also watch trends in web usage and at social-media sites [like Twitter and Facebook].”

Data mining the information gathered by utilizing predictive tools like Google Flu Trends and MappyHealth, winner of the Department of Health and Human Service’s NowTrending2012 Contest, help the CDC see quickly and accurately when trends begin and how quickly they spread. Information is pulled from social media using keywords including conditions by name, as well as specific symptoms. The end data is compiled into charts, allowing end-users to visually asses trends.

By drawing from colloquial sources and utilizing these predictive tools to support their analysis, the CDC has effectively shaved several weeks off of their reporting time. A typical report that must begin in the local department and gradually be passed up to the federal level may take several weeks. Pulling from real-time tweets may allow our public health systems to be more thorough in warning citizens of the dangers of any particular epidemic before it escalates to catastrophic levels.

How could predictive analytics help your industry alleviate risks? Beyond just mitigating dangers, Anticipating trends can create opportunities for your business as well. If you’re interested in learning more about Data Mining and Analytics, perhaps The Modeling Agency’s free, one-hour webinars are the perfect introduction. For more in-depth training, consider attending our next Training Seminar.