Here’s How Researchers In Boston Spotted The Ebola Outbreak Before The World Health Organization

Timothy McGrath | Los Angeles Daily News | August 13, 2014

On March 23 the World Health Organization announced there was an Ebola outbreak in Guinea. But a team of researchers four thousand miles away in Boston already knew that.  How?

The internet, of course! And a little help from their incredibly sophisticated website and online disease-tracking tool called HealthMap.

HealthMap, which launched in 2006, is the brainchild of a few dozen scientists, epidemiologists, and software programmers at the Boston Children’s Hospital. They wanted to design a tool that could take bits of information scattered across the internet and shape it into knowledge about infectious diseases around the world. So they wrote software that pulls, sifts, and organizes all kinds of information from thousands of sources, including government websites, NGOs, local news agencies, Twitter and Facebook and turns it all into a neat, easy-to-use disease-tracking database...