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When big data becomes a tool in the battle to contain Ebola

Same kind of technology that helps marketers deliver targeted ads can be useful in fight against epidemics

Published Sun, Oct 26, 2014 · 09:50 PM

Washington

NINE days before Ebola was declared an epidemic, a group of researchers and computer scientists in Boston spotted the haemorrhagic fever beginning to spread in Guinea.

By scouring the Internet for clues from social media, local news reports and other available online data, the algorithm developed by HealthMap had an early picture of the deadly disease moving across West Africa.

"Official agencies tend to be more cautious about these announcements, so public communication tends to lag," said Clark Freifeld, who co-founded HealthMap in 2006 at Boston Children's Hospital. "We see this as our role to get that …

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