Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Tracking Coronavirus

PostedJanuary 31, 2020

Download File (mp3)

Lead: The current coronavirus outbreak is being tracked using technologies that monitor news and social media, in the hope of identifying hotspots and predicting its spread.

Randy Atkins: A tool called “near real-time surveillance” is flagging incidents that might provide early warning about new areas of coronavirus concern. Mark Gallivan is director of data science at Metabiota, a company that tracks epidemics…in part, by sifting through the worldwide web.

Mark Gallivan: Our engineers help with algorithms to allow us to cut through a lot of the noise, particularly different news reports. It helps both identify the event and then also extract data from relevant reports.

Randy Atkins: Metabiota’s clients include insurance companies and US intelligence agencies.

Mark Gallivan: These are tools that help decision makers make decisions much quicker. Speed is really essential to stop an outbreak.

Randy Atkins: Gallivan says the information they gather is also being combined with global flight data to predict risks of where the virus might spread next. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.