New mapping tools bring public health surveillance to the masses by Kim Krisberg.
From the post:
Many of us probably look into cyberspace and are overwhelmed with its unwieldy amounts of never-ending information. John Brownstein, on the other hand, sees points on a map.
Brownstein is the co-founder of HealthMap, a team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Children’s Hospital Boston who use online sources to track disease outbreaks and deliver real-time surveillance on emerging public health threats. But instead of depending wholly on traditional methods of public health data collection and official reports to create maps, HealthMap enlists helps from, well, just about everybody.
“We recognized that collecting data in more traditional ways can sometimes be difficult and the flow of information can take a while,” said Brownstein, also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “So, the question was how to collect data outside the health care structure to serve public health and the general public.”
HealthMap, which debuted in 2006, scours the Internet for relevant information, aggregating data from online news services, eyewitness reports, professional discussion rooms and official sources. The result? The possibility to map disease trends in places where no public health or health care infrastructures even exist, Brownstein told me. And because HealthMap works non-stop, continually monitoring, sorting and visualizing online information, the system can also serve as an early warning system for disease outbreaks.
You need to read this post and then visit HealthMap.
Collating information from diverse sources is a mainstay of epidemiology.
Topic maps are an effort to bring the benefits of collating information from diverse sources to other fields.
(I first saw this on Beyond Search.)