Google and Facebook may soon be able to predict outbreaks, claim researchers

The coronavirus surveys being conducted by Facebook and Google may lead them to start predicting outbreaks like the coronavirus, says a report by Digital Trends. The report is based on the claims of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Coronavirus surveys are being run on both Facebook and Google where users are being encouraged to answer questions about coronavirus symptoms of themselves and other family members. The surveys are also marking and thus collecting information about the demographic information of the users. As per Carnegie Mellon researchers, the number of people who are participating in coronavirus surveys runs in millions, thus providing them with data that could be used to track the spread of COVID-19 in real-time.

Facebook gets the researchers about one million survey responses per week. Google is also not very far behind as far as the numbers are concerned. “Last week they received nearly 600,000 responses per day through Google Opinion Rewards and AdMob apps”, says the report.

How does asking people if they have coronavirus symptoms help in this case? The data that’s being collected by Facebook and Google “correlates closely to the levels of the disease found by testing”, says the report. Thus the combination of confirmed test results, data from Facebook and Google and other sources of data may help in predicting cases up to several weeks beforehand. The predictions can thus give hospitals and other medical services some time to prepare for the outbreak which may go a long way in saving more lives than they could in case they are not ready and any pandemic strikes.

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