An Iterative Process of Integrating and Developing Big Data Modeling and Visualization Tools in Collaboration With Public Health Officials


Public Health Department priorities and activities are guided by the 10 essential services of public health. Three of these essential services, namely, monitoring health status to identify and solve community health problems, diagnosing and investigating health problems, and utilizing research to identify new insights and innovative solutions to health problems, are central in national and local public health efforts to end the HIV epidemic. To conduct these services, health departments collect data through health surveillance systems and other data sources to identify, characterize, and quantify the impact of HIV on the community. Harnessing social media data and visualization tools can increase understanding and response to emerging health problems as they provide a more timely and personal account of the needs, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of people living with or at risk of contracting HIV. However, these data require new skills and computational resources not typically found in most health departments. In this case study, we will describe the process and lessons learned from an academic-public health collaboration between HIV program directors and a multidisciplinary research team that sought to identify potential applications of social media data and its contribution toward enhancing health department HIV prevention and care services; and how the collaboration led to a shared understanding and new ideas.

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