BFF-27 Facebook-powered virus ‘heat map’ unveiled

353

ZCZC

BFF-27

HEALTH-VIRUS-US-IT

Facebook-powered virus ‘heat map’ unveiled

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Researchers Monday unveiled
a coronavirus “heat map” powered by Facebook data which is aimed at
helping track the spread of the disease and plan for reopening
society.

The Carnegie Mellon University project offers “real-time indications
of COVID-19 activity not previously available from any other source,”
according to a university statement.

The map was developed with millions of responses to surveys of
Facebook and Google users as part of an effort to monitor the spread
of the virus.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the heat map,
currently available for the United States, was being expanded globally
with help from University of Maryland research teams.

“As the world fights COVID-19 and countries develop plans to reopen
their societies, it’s critical to have a clear understanding of how
the disease is spreading,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page and
in the Washington Post.

“With a community of billions of people globally, Facebook can
uniquely help researchers and health authorities get the information
they need to respond to the outbreak and start planning for the
recovery.”

Carnegie Mellon researchers said they are receiving about one
million responses per week from Facebook users, and have also gotten
some 600,000 from Google users.

“Using these and other unique data sources, the CMU researchers will
monitor changes over time, enabling them to forecast COVID-19 activity
several weeks into the future,” the research team said.

The research uses responses to Facebook surveys about symptoms
people are experiences, with data controlled by university team and
not shared with the social network.

The scientists also rely on anonymized data from Google and other
partners on symptoms and search queries.

“The survey asked people if they have symptoms such as fevers,
coughing, shortness of breath or loss of smell that are associated
with COVID-19,” Zuckerberg said.

“Since experiencing symptoms is a precursor to becoming more
seriously ill, this survey can help forecast how many cases hospitals
will see in the days ahead and provide an early indicator of where the
outbreak is growing and where the curve is being successfully
flattened.”

BSS/AFP/MRU/2000hrs