Big Data for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Modeling

Shweta Bansal, Gerardo Chowell, Lone Simonsen, Alessandro Vespignani, Cécile Viboud

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We devote a special issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases to review the recent advances of big data in strengthening disease surveillance, monitoring medical adverse events, informing transmission models, and tracking patient sentiments and mobility. We consider a broad definition of big data for public health, one encompassing patient information gathered from high-volume electronic health records and participatory surveillance systems, as well as mining of digital traces such as social media, Internet searches, and cell-phone logs. We introduce nine independent contributions to this special issue and highlight several cross-cutting areas that require further research, including representativeness, biases, volatility, and validation, and the need for robust statistical and hypotheses-driven analyses. Overall, we are optimistic that the big-data revolution will vastly improve the granularity and timeliness of available epidemiological information, with hybrid systems augmenting rather than supplanting traditional surveillance systems, and better prospects for accurate infectious diseases models and forecasts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue numbersuppl 4
Pages (from-to)S375-S379
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Big data
  • Infectious diseases
  • Surveillance
  • Disease models
  • Social media
  • Internet search queries
  • Electronic health records
  • Mobility
  • Adverse events
  • Outbreaks

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