There’s never a dull day at Menlo Park, California, all thanks to Facebook. Following the announcement of News Feed optimization (that will now allow users to view data on their Facebook home page, based on relevance and closeness), the social media giant is all set to fight diseases next.
Yeah, you heard it right! Just recently, Facebook used its trove of data, collected from millions of users around the world, to build maps. One of the maps of London was recently released, showing population density and movement of epidemic diseases.
This data is quite useful for health agencies and research organizations, also NGOs, trying to tackle the outbreak of epidemics around the world.
Not long ago, the company released a similar map for natural disasters, highlighting the victim count in disaster-struck locations for the help aid groups to respond more effectively in the affected region.
The newly launched Facebook health maps will empower researchers and anthropologists to study people activity and disease movement in a closed space (within the 30-meter grid tile). The stats include the number of women approaching the reproductive age, the count of children between 1 to 5 years, and the total youth and elderly population residing in a neighborhood.
It’ll give health organizations important insights for studying the large-scale impact of epidemics on a local population—how they’re evolving across time, and how to control them from spreading further.
Besides using its internal algorithm, Facebook roped in data from commercially available data set to produce more reliable maps. The project is a part of the famous ‘Facebook’s Data for Good efforts’ movement wherein the social network attempts to use data for humanitarian purposes.
So far, a few esteemed global organizations like the World Economic Forum, World Bank, UNICEF, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (Imperial College, London) and the Harvard School of Public Health have the access to this data on a non-commercial basis. Hopefully it’ll help these research organizations control the dynamics of epidemic diseases.