Converting Big Data into Public Health
A collaborative work including Dr. Isaac Fung examines public health applications of big data and the increased need for collaboration and communication between big data scientists and public health practitioners. In a letter to Science, Dr. Fung and his collaborators suggest that big data scientists and public health practitioners must forge better relationships if the vision for public health applications of big data is to be realized. Outreach programs, self-learning modules and textbooks that are designed for users without a programming background will help public health practitioners to pick up skills for big data analysis. In their letter, Dr. Fung and his team uses CDC’s Ebola Response model as an example of a successful communication tool through which technical experts can communicate to policy makers a powerful message and facilitate resource mobilization and prompt action. Consultation with the intended audience helps ensure that the product meets their needs. Likewise, big data analyses should help public health practitioners inform policy-makers about their policy options and how they should communicate to the general public on public health issues.