A new paper from a team led but Mauricio Santillana, a mathematician, and member of the computational health informatics team at Boston Children’s Hospital, offers this in a new paper:
We show that information from Internet-based data sources, when combined using an informed, robust methodology, can be effectively used as early indicators of influenza activity at fine geographic resolutions.
Crowdsourced data can be valuable, especially in developing countries where official health data can lag by months. But on their own, these maps tend to overpredict, said Mauricio Santillana, a mathematician, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and faculty member of the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “They don’t add the nuances when they try to predict at a hyperlocal level,” he said. Many are also commercially driven, so he questions their objectivity. “They’re produced by people who’d benefit by people rushing into pharmacies.”