Ian Brooks, iSchool research scientist and director of the Center for Health Informatics, and Sebastian Garcia Saiso, director of the Department of Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), presented their preliminary social media analytics research on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO).
"This was a two-day global event attended by more than 1,300 people organized by WHO in less than a week to get advice on how to handle the information deluge or 'infodemic' resulting from COVID-19," said Brooks.
Brooks and Garcia Saiso worked with Joseph Yun, research assistant professor of accountancy and director of the Data Science Research Service at the Gies College of Business, and a team from the Social Media Lab at Technology Services. They found Twitter volume about COVID-19 increased rapidly to almost 30 million Tweets per day after Italy was locked down, with over 538 million in March alone. In the PAHO region, almost half of the Ministries of Health are not using Twitter to communicate with their citizens, and those that do are using an inconsistent variety of hashtags that can be identified as being from official sources (#PlanCoronavirus). The researchers recommended more coordination by WHO to avoid confusion and improve communication with the public through social media.
Brooks' research interests include public and global health informatics, epidemiology, cyberinfrastructure, data analytics, and One Health. He holds a PhD in biochemistry from Bryn Mawr College, MS in applied and engineering physics from Cornell University, and BSc in biophysics from the University of York in England.