Healthcare Business News

Feds look to mine social media for outbreak info

By Rich Daly
Posted: November 8, 2012 - 3:00 pm ET

Facebook may become a tool in containing the next disease outbreak under a pilot program to mine social networks for real-time public health data.

Accenture Federal Services, Arlington, Va., a wholly owned subsidiary of Accenture LLP, was awarded a one-year, $3 million contract by the U.S. Homeland Security Department to help boost the biosurveillence capabilities of the Office of Health Affairs, according to a news release. The office is responsible for providing health and medical expertise to prepare for, respond to and recover from any hazard impacting the nation's health security, including biological threats.

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The company will develop a social-media analytics pilot to manage, link and analyze data from social-media networks in real time to provide national health emergency information in the case of infectious-disease outbreaks or a biological attack. The project also aims to improve the office's data-sharing and collaboration capabilities with other federal offices.

Such information is freely available on a variety of social-network platforms, but the quantity of it has created challenges in collecting, analyzing and sharing it, according to the company.

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