John Brownstein’s Putting the Public Back in Public Health

December 11, 2014
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Patricia Salber

By crowdsourcing information about the occurrence of infectious disease, HealthMap puts the public back in public health.

Despite suffering from a cold that affected his voice, John Brownstein, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and on faculty at Boston Children’s Hospital, joined Pat Salber () for a conversation about HealthMap at the mHealth Summit in Washington DC. They talked about his work gathering data from many different sources, including Twitter, blogs, Yelp and other sites, to map outbreaks of infectious disease around the world all in one spot, the HealthMap. The data is used to map outbreaks of infectious disease around the world, all in one spot, the HealthMap.

In order to organize all this data from so many disparate sources, the team built a taxonomy (“a scheme of classification”) that allows them to take text, that is, what people write online, and organize it into meaningful information. They have developed dictionaries of both infectious diseases as well as geographic locations. The HealthMap mining algorithms look for those diseases and locations in the free text feeds they get and categorizes them. In that way, huge amounts of data can be classified so that it isn’t so overwhelming.

His team also has developed apps that facilitate crowdsourcing of outbreak data, such as Flu Near You and the reporting function of Outbreaks Near Me. Watch the video to learn more about the exciting projects HealthMap is involved with!

Read the full article here:

This video is under BY-ND creative commons.

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Patricia Salber

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