Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twitter Tracks Cholera Outbreaks Faster Than Health Authorities

Josh Fischman, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 9, 2012

From the article: "Getting a jump of two weeks on an infectious disease can mean the difference between life and death, between containment and an epidemic. Now researchers have shown that, for the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti, social media like Twitter can track outbreaks as much as two weeks sooner than official health reports, especially when used by people with mobile phones… Social media are not a magic bullet for a crisis, however, and that was also evident in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Aid agencies relied on text messages from cellphones and crowd-sourced maps to direct rescue workers. One of those “crisis maps,” called Ushahidi, collected calls for help from across the island and used them to identify areas where the need for help was greatest and most urgent. The approach worked well at many times but not always smoothly." Read more

See Also
Rumi Chunara, Jason R. Andrews, and John S. Brownstein, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2012 vol. 86 no. 1 39-45