Outbreaks monitored with Facebook
Tuesday 18 May 2010
The web and social networking has gotten a bad rep lately from research proving it ups anxiety, likelihood of obesity and the latest privacy battle between Facebook executives and users. However social scientists have found a novel way to use social networking to map contagious outbreaks.
Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, an internist, social scientist and professor of medical sociology, medicine, and sociology at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and James H. Fowler, a political scientist specializing in social networks and professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, collaborated on a research project that analyzed "friends" to determine flu outbreaks (both seasonal and swine) at Harvard in 2009.
The study according to the May 14 print edition of The Economist, a global current events magazine, has been submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for publication . It is currently available for download via arVix.org, a research online database linked to Cornell University Library.
The researchers monitored 744 Harvard students by identifying random individuals and selecting their three most popular friends and those "most central" to analyze the spread of the flu. The novel approach showed promising evidence that social networks could be a valuable tool for keep communities healthy and preventing large outbreaks.
Fowler wrote, "Based on clinical diagnoses, the progression of the epidemic in the friend group occurred 14.7 days (95% C.I. 11.7-17.6) in advance of the randomly chosen group (i.e., the population as a whole). The friend group also showed a significant lead time (p<0.05) on day 16 of the epidemic, a full 46 days before the peak in daily incidence in the population as a whole."
He continued, "This sensor method could provide significant additional time to react to epidemics in small or large populations under surveillance. Moreover, the method could in principle be generalized to other biological, psychological, informational, or behavioral contagions that spread in networks."
Maybe you should start asking friends to provide health status updates.
To access the abstract, "Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks" visit: http://arxiv.org/abs/1004.4792
Life & Style blogs
When did the Eiffel Tower open to the public? Six things you didn't know about iconic structure
Pacman Google Maps: company offers chance to play classic arcade game on real streets
Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Worst time to be a parent revealed: Dinner, baths and bed time push stress levels to peak
American Apparel gets another ad banned by advertising watchdog for sexualising children
- 1 Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
- 2 Trevor Noah: Jon Stewart's replacement faces online criticism over 'anti-Semitic' tweets
- 3 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...
£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...