Now Trending in Your Community: Social Media Insights For Your Public Health Mission


In today’s fast paced world, information is available (and expected) instantaneously. Social media has only fueled this expectation as it has permeated all aspects of our lives. More and more of the population is turning to social media outlets to share their thoughts and update their status, especially during disasters. With all these conversations occurring, it is only reasonable to assume that health status is part of the information being shared. In fact, studies by Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University have shown that social media reporting can serve as an early indicator and warning of emerging health issues within a community. Whether people are talking about being sick themselves or fear of illness in the community, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained by tapping into this information. Yet gaining insight and understanding from social media data can be problematic. The unstructured nature of the data, the presence of social media “spam”, and the frequency of reposting information makes social media a noisy data source. Being able to harness this data would provide the opportunity to use social media as an effective situational awareness and early warning tool for biosurveillance missions. But how do you accomplish this? There are tens of millions of conversations happening on social media every day that would need to be sifted through to get to the health related topics. No public health entity has the time or staffing for that endeavor.


The goal of the Now Trending website is to provide a web based tool that pulls out relevant Twitter conversations concerning illness and disasters and provides meaningful analytics on how those conversations are trending. The website gives the user the ability to view trends overall and for specific geographic areas.

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December, 2017

November 22, 2017

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This Knowledge Repository is made possible through the activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement/Grant #1 NU500E000098-01, National Surveillance Program Community of Practice (NSSP-CoP): Strengthening Health Surveillance Capabilities Nationwide, which is in the interest of public health.

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