Big Data and the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN)
Canada Communicable Disease Report
Globalization and the potential for rapid spread of emerging infectious diseases have heightened the need for ongoing surveillance and early detection. The Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) was established to increase situational awareness and capacity for the early detection of emerging public health events. To describe how the GPHIN has used Big Data as an effective early detection technique for infectious disease outbreaks worldwide and to identify potential future directions
... for the GPHIN. Every day the GPHIN analyzes over more than 20,000 online news reports (over 30,000 sources) in nine languages worldwide. A web-based program aggregates data based on an algorithm that provides potential signals of emerging public health events which are then reviewed by a multilingual, multidisciplinary team. An alert is sent out if a potential risk is identified. This process proved useful during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak and was adopted shortly after by a number of countries to meet new International Health Regulations that require each country to have the capacity for early detection and reporting. The GPHIN identified the early SARS outbreak in China, was credited with the first alert on MERS-CoV and has played a significant role in the monitoring of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Future developments are being considered to advance the GPHIN's capacity in light of other Big Data sources such as social media and its analytical capacity in terms of algorithm development. The GPHIN's early adoption of Big Data has increased global capacity to detect international infectious disease outbreaks and other public health events. Integration of additional Big Data sources and advances in analytical capacity could further strengthen the GPHIN's capability for timely detection and early warning.