Facebook releases disease prevention maps to fight flu, malaria outbreaks

Using a combination of artificial intelligence, satellite imagery and publicly available census information, Facebook has created three types of maps to improve responses to disease outbreaks, available for use by health organizations around the world beginning May 20.

The movement, population density and network coverage maps are all high-resolution depictions of communities' access to health resources. The trio of maps can be used, respectively, to predict where outbreaks of diseases like malaria, cholera and the flu will arise next, help organizations decide where to allocate resources and determine whether these intended beneficiaries can be reached with telehealth and other digital solutions.

Facebook's initial partners in the project include UNICEF, the World Economic Forum, the International Medical Corps and the Harvard School of Public Health. The maps, which are part of the social networking company's Data for Good initiative, have already been used in case studies to improve vaccination rates in Malawi and predict how and where deadly cyclones could lead to cholera outbreaks in Mozambique.

The maps and corresponding datasets are available for free download on the Humanitarian Data Exchange.

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