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Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2013 Aug;15(4):316-9. doi: 10.1007/s11908-013-0341-5.

Why we need crowdsourced data in infectious disease surveillance.

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Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA,


In infectious disease surveillance, public health data such as environmental, hospital, or census data have been extensively explored to create robust models of disease dynamics. However, this information is also subject to its own biases, including latency, high cost, contributor biases, and imprecise resolution. Simultaneously, new technologies including Internet and mobile phone based tools, now enable information to be garnered directly from individuals at the point of care. Here, we consider how these crowdsourced data offer the opportunity to fill gaps in and augment current epidemiological models. Challenges and methods for overcoming limitations of the data are also reviewed. As more new information sources become mature, incorporating these novel data into epidemiological frameworks will enable us to learn more about infectious disease dynamics.

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