According to Public Health Watch, a computer algorithm called HealthMap, which scours news, "the World Health Organization updates, reports from the Centers for Disease Control" and even Twitter, had picked up the beginning of the Ebola epidemic nine days before it was officially announced by the World Health Organization.
So how did a computer algorithm pick up on the start of the outbreak before the WHO? As it turns out, some of the first health care workers to see Ebola in Guinea regularly blog about their work. As they began to write about treating patients with Ebola-like symptoms, a few people on social media mentioned the blog posts.
And it didn’t take long for HealthMap to detect these mentions. While social media isn’t necessarily the most reliable source of news, HealthMap’s algorithm is specifically designed to sort out the “noise” from the “signal” as it digs through the data, making the results far more useful.
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