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Government Use of Social Media During Epidemics

by on June 27, 2013

A recent article titled “7 Unexpected (but Great) Ways the Government is Using Social Media” highlights how governments are using social media to improve the lives of citizens. One of the uses presented is “to stop epidemics,” which includes the following example of how social media was used during a cholera epidemic following Haiti’s tragic 2010 earthquake:

In January 2010, in the wake of a tragic earthquake, Haiti suffered through a cholera epidemic. The disease spread throughout devastated neighborhoods faster than health care workers could respond, killing more than 6,500 people. Authorities ultimately turned to Twitter to stop it, notes ZDNet’s Dion Hinchcliffe, who reported on many of these innovations. Using specialized software, they were able to track the number and location of cholera-related tweets, pinpointing outbreaks well in advance of official warnings. The sheer quantity of public data shared on Twitter, Facebook and other networks makes social media an invaluable listening and tracking tool. With the right software to filter and analyze keyword streams, authorities can identify trends – from outbreaks to traffic problems – in almost real time.

MEASURE Evaluation played a role in responding to the disaster in Haiti and the following cholera epidemic.

Thoughts?

From → Global Health

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