Facebook-powered COVID-19 heat map rolls out
US researchers have announced a new coronavirus “heat map” powered by Facebook data that aims to help track the spread of the disease and aid in the easing of lockdown measures around the world.
The Carnegie Mellon University project seeks to offer real-time indications of COVID-19 activity not previously available from any other source.
The map was developed from millions of survey responses about symptoms sourced from both Facebook and Google. The researchers say they are receiving one million responses per week from Facebook users, and have had 600,000 responses from Google users. The data gathered is controlled by the university team, not Facebook.
The heat map is currently only available for the US, but is now being expanded internationally with the help of research teams from the University of Maryland.
“With a community of billions of people globally, Facebook can uniquely help researchers and health authorities get the information they need to respond to the outbreak and start planning for the recovery,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his own Facebook page and in the Washington Post.
“Since experiencing symptoms is a precursor to becoming more seriously ill, this survey can help forecast how many cases hospitals will see in the days ahead and provide an early indicator of where the outbreak is growing and where the curve is being successfully flattened.”
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