Friday, 15 June 2012

EMERGING TECHNOLOGY: Sickness Maps to Track Common Diseases

Sickweather headache map mined from keywords in Tweets
Twitter is being currently explored to track and map common infectious diseases and illnesses such as flu, asthma, pneumonia and chicken pox. By extracting (live data mining) key words from tweets (messages) one can locate their occurrence. The aim is to help health officials with timely spatial data., for example, tracks 20+ symptoms and illnesses (see the sample map). The New Scientist reports that HealthMap helped track the spread of cholera in Haiti via Twitter. Marcel Salathe mapped a 2009 flu outbreak in the USA by examining 248,000 tweets and is also using Tweets to map obesity reports New Scientist

Can Twitter predict outbreaks? Graham Dodge, founder of Sickweather, thinks so.

And $21,000 is up for grabs for the best Twitter map:
"Join The U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in it's newest Challenge competition. Develop and submit a web-based application that tracks Twitter to identify trending illnesses.

With these Twitter developments, Sammy Roth, an intern with GOOD Technology, suggests we will do public health officials a favour by tweeting how we feel.

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