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Here’s a map that tracks COVID-19 symptoms

Maps have become one of the most useful tools to track and monitor the spread of Novel coronavirus. Mapping the disease data is not just helping policymakers and authorities to take appropriate action but are also helping common people to avoid hotspot zones.  Looking at such usefulness of maps, Facebook in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University has launched COVID-19 Symptom Map presenting the estimated percentage of people with COVID-19 symptoms in the United States of America.

Sharing a blogpost on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling. We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses and Facebook only sees aggregated data.” “Based on aggregate data from the opt-in survey we’re running with researchers at Carnegie Mellon. We’ll update these maps daily through this outbreak,” he writes further. 

For this, the social media giant is using aggregated public data from a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center. This survey has been conducted in a privacy-protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses and Facebook can see aggregated data.

Researchers believe that symptom survey maps can be an important tool in the allocation of health resources like ventilators, masks, medicines, etc.  It will also help governments to decide when it is safe to re-open different places.

The map now provides data of the US, the next step of Facebook is to start running these surveys globally this week. This will allow to expand the symptom maps and to provide county-by-count

How does the map work

The map shows the total number of people with COVID-19 like symptoms and flu symptoms of each and every county. You simply need to click on the county and zoom to see the details. The map also allows one to compare that with a map of Facebook users who reported flu symptoms in the county.

The Map also shows the estimated percentage of people who may have experienced symptoms based on a 3-day rolling average by hospital referral regions. Hospital referral regions represents regional healthcare provider markets with at least one hospital that conducts specialized medical care. The County data is based on 7 days calendar and Hospital data is based on 3 days rolling average.  

As part of Data for Good program, Facebook is supporting other research projects as well that can help experts and policymakers more effectively plan for COVID-19 outbreaks. It has also designed, three types of Disease Prevention Maps to help inform disease forecasting efforts and protective measures. Facebook is using artificial intelligence to help experts more effectively plan to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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