Our goal is to develop and use technology platforms and novel datasets to support and inform patterns of disease, promote public health, and contribute to infectious disease surveillance efforts.
Founded in 2006, the Computational Epidemiology Lab is an established global leader in utilizing online informal sources for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats. With support and partnerships across academic research institutions; local, federal, and global health agencies; public and private foundations and industry partners, the Lab maintains a dynamic portfolio of projects and platforms focusing on innovative infectious disease surveillance, or “digital disease detection.”
Our team of researchers, epidemiologists, physicians, data scientists, and software engineers develop infectious diseases surveillance platforms and specialize in building visualization-based tools that aggregate public health resources and data to inform the general public and public health policy makers. We aim to bring together data and emerging technologies to have a translational impact on the control and prevention of disease through better epidemiologic understanding of factors influencing disease risk, improved practice of public health, and engaging the public around important health issues.
Our portfolio includes numerous grant-funded innovative infectious disease surveillance and public health preparedness projects. A few of our projects are highlighted below.
HealthMap is the Lab’s inaugural project founded in 2006. A first of its kind, HealthMap is a machine learning tool that aggregates informal online sources, including news media and social media posts, from around the globe to track infectious disease outbreaks 24/7/365 in 15 functional languages. The freely accessible platform is used by highly recognized government institutions, including CDC, WHO, HHS, DOD, and ECDC, as well as public health institutions and the public. Each year, the platform receives over one million visits.
Outbreaks Near Me is the next generation of Flu Near You, built in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Outbreaks Near Me is a participatory, syndromic surveillance tool that allows users to submit weekly health reports on symptoms they are experiencing to track potential COVID-19 and flu activity in a geographic region. Launched in March 2020, Outbreaks Near Me tracks multiple diseases in one crowdsourced surveillance platform and has collected over 6.8 million reports to date. Partnering with local, state, and federal public health officials, Outbreaks Near Me supplements traditional surveillance measures on estimating the burdens of disease of COVID-19 and flu.
VaccineFinder is a publicly accessible tool that allows users to locate immunization providers. Originally an effort from Google in response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, VaccineFinder officially transferred to the Computational Epidemiology Lab’s portfolio in 2012, where we continue to expand the tool. Today, VaccineFinder powers Vaccines.gov to support CDC and White House efforts to promote vaccine access to COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Vaccines.gov has over 60,000 locations enrolled in its system, including large chain pharmacies, independently-owned pharmacies, clinics, healthcare offices, health departments, and tribal health centers across the United States. Since Vaccines.gov’s launch in 2020, there have been over 9 million visits to the tool.