Data for Good: New Tools to Help Health Researchers Track and Combat COVID-19

data for good

Facebook has outlined its latest efforts to help health authorities in combating the spread of COVID-19, with its ‘Data for Good‘ initiative providing a variety of location tracking and individual connectivity maps which may help to spotlight key areas of concern, and better ready for influxes before they overwhelm local health systems.

Facebook says that it’s providing 3 sorts of data tracking tools to help authorities.

Facebook is providing co-location map.It highlights the probability that folks in one area will are available contact with people in another.Its helping illuminate where COVID-19 cases may appear next”.

The blue lines here indicate people movements, supported location tracking on mobile devices. The more blue lines, the more people are traveling between each region, increasing the danger of the virus’ spread.

Facebook is also providing data on movement range trends. It indicates whether people are staying home and adhering to lockdown’s also providing “social connectedness” maps.

“The social connectedness index shows friendships across states and countries, which may help epidemiologists forecast the likelihood of disease spread, also as where areas hardest hit by COVID-19 might seek support.”

Facebook connectedness maps
The map essentially highlights what percentage people in each region are connected to others within their local vicinity on Facebook. As you’ll see here, the info indicates that folks in ny have more connections within that region, which could lead on to more rapid disease spread thanks to social engagement.

The insights could provide health authorities with a critical head-start on potential outbreaks and increases, enabling them to organize local providers and resources before time. that would become increasingly important within the months ahead – once we reach the height just in case numbers and appearance to ease back movement restrictions, keeping tabs on new steps could help in avoiding new lockdown measures by responding quickly to concerns.

When there are various concerns about the utilization of user data to assist track the spread of COVID-19. There is little argument on its benefits.

Through location data, provided by digital platforms, various Asian nations are ready to better contain the virus, and limit its impacts, but they’ve often done so in ways in which many would see as infringing on people’s rights. In Taiwan, for instance , officials been employing a system which monitors the movement of individuals who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, supported their mobile device data, and alerts authorities if they plan to leave their house, or cut their phone.

That sort of individual data tracking causes great angst amongst privacy advocates, particularly with reference to the longer-term ramifications, and therefore the ways during which such processes are often wont to monitor and limit people remotely. And this is often just the tip of the iceberg – what if authorities involved more information access, for private search histories, Facebook Likes – insights that be highly indicative of people’s mental state , personal preferences, weaknesses, etc.

The depth of digital data now carries with it significant responsibility for the platforms. Because within the wrong hands, it can shift opinion and facilitate damaging movements on a broad scale. While also enabling intricate profiling of a person . That’s a really dangerous area to be occupation – and you’ll understand, then, why privacy advocates are sounding the alarm bells immediately .

Facebook’s mapping data, during this instance, is anonymized and aggregated, so there are not any personally identifying aspects to the knowledge being provided. But it’s inching closer thereto next stage. Clearly, there’s practical value in trend and migration insights like this, but the platforms are right to take care in their facilitation of any such requests.

On another front, Facebook is additionally looking to assist health authorities better map COVID-19 symptoms and potential cases via user surveys, which can appear in News Feeds from in the week .

As explained by Facebook:

Facebook user survey COVID-19
The surveys will gather feedback from Facebook users on any symptoms they could be experiencing, which, if used on an outsized enough scale, could help to point potential areas of concern by correlating COVID-19 outbreaks and their symptoms, and alerting authorities to relative increases within the same.

The survey-based approach is that the same principle being applied by a replacement COVID-19 tracking app called ‘How We Feel’, which launched last week.

How We Feel App
The idea is that by gathering data on symptoms being experienced, and mapping them by region, researchers can get before any future outbreaks by recognizing patterns – a rise in COVID-like symptoms coming from a particular town, for instance , could trigger an alert for health authorities to build up mitigation efforts to limit any potential spread.

Facebook’s variation will likely have more success, as long as it’s within Facebook, though the impact, as noted, are going to be relative to user take-up. If more people self-report their symptoms, the info trail solidifies – but if few take it up, the insights won’t be indicative enough of relevant shifts.

These are the newest in Facebook’s ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19 and reduce its impacts, while also showcasing its platform as a tool for social good, and connecting the general public . Definitely, Facebook’s reach puts it during a unique position to be ready to share accurate, timely information with wide audience, and with extra tools and initiatives like these being implemented to help , it’s underlining its position as a key utility, a key tool in tackling the various issues associated with the pandemic.

Of course, Facebook is additionally combating various misinformation campaigns and attempts to mislead the general public , but after all , it’s hard to argue that the platform hasn’t been a force permanently so far amid the outbreak.


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