Facebook releases a trio of maps to aid with fighting disease outbreaks

TechCrunch | 5/20/2019 | Staff
vegdancer18 (Posted by) Level 3
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Facebook this morning announced a new initiative focused on using its data and technologies to help nonprofit organizations and universities working in public health better map the spread of infectious diseases around the world. Specifically, the company is introducing three new maps: population density maps with demographic estimates, movement maps, and network coverage maps. These, says Facebook, will help the health partners to understand where people live, how they’re moving, and if they have connectivity — all factors that can aid in determining how to respond to outbreaks, and where supplies should be delivered.

As Facebook explained, health organizations rely on information like this when planning public health campaigns. But much of the information they rely on is outdated, like older census data. In addition, information from more remote communities can be scarce.

Maps - Health - Data - Facebook - Organizations

By combining the new maps with other public health data, Facebook believes organizations will be better equipped to address epidemics.

The new high-resolution population density maps will estimate the number of people living within 30-meter grid tiles, and provide insights on demographics, including the number of children under five, the number of women of reproductive age, as well as young and elderly populations. These maps aren’t built using Facebook data, but are instead built by using Facebook’s A.I. capabilities with satellite imagery and census information.

Movement - Maps - Track - Aggregate - Data

Movement maps, meanwhile, track aggregate data about Facebook users’ movements via their mobile phones (when location services are enabled). At scale, health partners can combine this with other data to predict where other outbreaks may occur next.

And network coverage maps help to show where people can be reached with online messages — like those alerting to vaccination days or other health-related communications.

Course - Irony - Facebook - Data - Tech

Of course, it’s hard to not overlook the irony involved with Facebook data and tech being used to help with outbreaks that, in some cases,...
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