Track Public Health Concerns on Twitter

Tracking Disease Trends, 140 characters at a time

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced last week a new web-based application to track community health concerns using Twitter. Local public health officials can use the MappyHealth app to monitor their community health concerns in real time. The web-based app is the winning submission of 33 applicants the innovation challenge, “Now Trending: #Health in My Community,” sponsored by ASPR.

The winner, MappyHealth can be used with other health surveillance systems in identifying emerging health issues and can be an early warning of possible public health emergencies in a community. The challenge was created after studies showed trending topics on social media platforms can serve as an early indicator and emerging health issue within a community. The challenge called for helping the world of public health get the most out of social media by using Twitter data and deliver the top-five trending illnesses from a specified geographic area. The data would then be sent to state and local public health providers available to use in areas including engaging the public on trending health topics, serving as an indicators of potential health issues emerging in the population, or cross-referencing other data sources.

The web-based app is expected to be available in the next few weeks to state, territorial, tribal and local health agencies. MappyHealth won $21K in prize money which will be presented to the team during the BYOD public forum sponsored by HHS. Bring Your Own Data (BYOD): Opportunities and Challenges in Using Citizen-Generated Data for Situational Awareness is a public forum to engage the public health emergency community by discussing emerging technologies and trends in situational awareness and rapid decision support.

Date and Time: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 (8am – 5pm ET)
Location: Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, VA
Twitter Hashtag: #BYOD12 Follow @PHEgov
Registration information will be available soon.