Facebook’s Disease Prevention Maps: Using social media data to help “flatten the curve”
Facebook‘s Disease Prevention Maps provide data on population distribution and movement. Researchers and health experts can use these datasets in combination with, for instance, epidemiological information from health systems to better understand the pathways of disease outbreaks spread by human-to-human contact, such as in the case of COVID-19. All data is available across many countries, and the maps can quickly be generated to allow agencies a quick response to a disease.
From 2018 to 2020, dozens of research and public organisations used the Facebook data to improve public wellbeing and save lives. These included disaster preparedness projects, vaccination campaigns, and effective deployment of services during times of natural disaster. In view to research related to COVID-19 infections, the data has been used for projects such as modelling the impact of mobility and travel restrictions on the potential spread of the virus in Taiwan, and identifying impacts on economic inequalities of the lockdown in Italy. Overall, Facebook’s Disease Prevention Maps highlight the value of collaborations between private and public institutions to improve disaster responses.Research projects worldwide can be designed and replicated by using this innovative data source.
(Image: © Facebook)