Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Korbel School TechWeek Event -

Today, I was able to go to a TechWeek Event which was in the CyberCafe of Ben Cherrington Hall.

The topic was "Tracking global public health threats through apps and the web."

Health mobile applications--Digital Disease Detection
by Dr. David Scales
Harvard Medical School
Children's Hospital Boston

He will cover the what, how and why of -- Global Health Local Knowledge

They have a news section Sometimes breaking news is published in another language, and they translate the news into English. How? They get newspapers RSS feeds, 93 feeds and about 2000 alerts per day. They also take reports from individuals. they get information on the locations, species, and disease patterns, and this is put into 5 categories: Breaking news, warnings, old news, context, not disease related. They rate by risk by color: yellow, orange and red. They have seven languages on the website and 1 million hits per year.
Who uses this? CDC, WHO, national state local public health organizations, and many others.

Politics sometimes gets in the way of information transmission.  He tells the story of the 1972 Iran smallpox problem.At that time, the International health regulations required that the WHO act on official information only. Statements were made in 1951 and 1969.

Newsweek article on SARS. WHO "shining moment" in 2003.  WHO had been using unofficial data since 1998.  The WHO issues travel advisory to Hong Kong, Toronto and later, China. WHO was allowed to use unofficial sources in 2005/2006.

Disease reporting flowchart
Outbreak start, detection and reporting getting lots better time wise.
Promed disease social network
They want to build up use of social media into their results
Google news MMWR data, Geosentinal and CDC.

Next generation public health information coming from twitter and other social media sources.
Outbreaks near me iPod app. 100k downloads.
Will have a droid version soon
Signal to noise concern
Pretty close trend lines
Validate undiagnosed events by mobile phone Call 919 map1bug or on website or...
Chikungunya in India 7/22/11
he mentioned a Contagion movie tie-in  to help advertise Weekly survey.  Invite your friends. Win money.


Beyond digital disease detection.

This technology can be used for other types of tracking, such as the illegal animal trade, human rights abuses, etc
Dengue.  There are 4 types. See this PLoS article about it.  (PLoS was changed to plod on my iPod Touch.  It looks like he publishes and blogs quite a bit in PLoS journals.)

Cholera in Haiti surveillance
Twitter use Volume of tweets correlation? Yes

Bio.diaspora airline traffic and disease Problems near the Hajj -
Biomosaic (PDF about the project) Demographics, migration and health and foreign born population issues

Wildlife trade clandestine industry unmonitored and underground WWF wildlife trade map

Spread of polio virus 2004/05 Nigeria Vaccine News.

Hama massacre syria tracking human rights 1982 Syria tracker human rights abuses torture deaths etc.

This is a "Novel Internet-based collaborative system." It can play an important complementary role in gathering health info.

Media reports have been declining because there are less journalists covering health issues.  30-45% less articles and major newspapers. Science and medical journalists are getting laid off.

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