Big Data: Blessing or Curse? Part 2

Source: Vishal Krishna/ (27 June 2016)

Big Data are mostly discussed for two reasons. The first reason is whether those data that include personal information are safe or not. The second one is about how the data that are provided are used.

To begin with, I need to clarify what I am talking about when I use the term Big Data. CERN also uses Big Data but with another meaning for example. In this post I refer to the specific kind of Big Data that include private information and are mostly generated by humans through social media platforms or records of mobile phone lines.

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Infodemiology in the Battle Against Ebola: Mining the Web for Public Health Surveillance

“Infodemiology includes the analysis of queries from Internet search engines to predict disease outbreaks; monitoring people’s’ status updates on microblogs such as Twitter for syndromic surveillance; detecting and quantifying disparities in health information availability; identifying and monitoring of public health relevant publications on the Internet” (Eysenbach, 2009)

Internet data, especially search engine queries and social media postings, have shown promise in contributing to syndromic surveillance for several communicable diseases, including Ebola. Much has been written about the global response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, “lessons learned” have often focused on operational reasons why health systems faltered and why the humanitarian response came late, often taking donors and international aid agencies like the World Health Organisation (WHO) to task for mishandling the crisis.

A systematic review published in 2014 by Nuti and his colleagues, highlighted that in recent years, researchers have been increasingly utilising online search data for a diversity of health topics with some successful applications in the field of infectious disease surveillance, especially in countries with high Internet penetration levels (Nuti et al., 2014).

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TED talk: “Spatial Data: Make the Most of Your Opportunities”

One needs only to look through YouTube, the best example of what came to be called Web 2.0 (Meikle, 2016, p. 14), to find several TED talks on spatial data and mapping. Today, I would like to share the following 2015 speech of Chris Grundy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine about ‘opportunistic data collection’ in the field of public health.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks are up to eighteen-minute Internet-streamed presentations in which speakers address important topics from any discipline with the aim of “spreading ideas” (TED, 2017).

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