Accenture to develop biosurveillance pilot with DHS

Accenture Federal Services will create a pilot program for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security applying analytics to social media to help identify possible biosurveillance attacks. Accenture will take data from social networking media sites to help the Office of Health Affairs better predict, mitigate, protect citizens or respond to potential crises to national health emergencies including an infectious disease outbreak or a biological attack.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded Accenture Federal Services a $3 million, one-year contract to help the Office of Health Affairs (OHA) enhance its biosurveillance capabilities using social media analytics. The project also will help improve data sharing and collaboration between OHA and its partners. Accenture will work with OHA to develop a social media analytics pilot that will manage, link and analyze data from social media networks in real time to better inform and protect the public in the event of a national health emergency such as an infectious disease outbreak or a biological attack.

Biosurveillance is the monitoring of public health trends and unusual occurrences, relying on pre-existing, real-time health data – data that is publicly available and easily obtained. Because of the vast amount of data and information available and readily shared through social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) and the rapid pace information is shared, collecting and understanding information from these channels is critical.

The pilot will allow for real time data aggregation and monitoring on this new security area. The government recently increased its scrutiny of potential biological attack in the wake of recent public health scares like the swine flu. The Office of Health Affairs is responsible for providing health and medical expertise to prepare for, respond to and recover from any hazard impacting the nation’s health security, including biological threats.

“Social media platforms are now an everyday part of peoples’ lives, finding their way into all forms of communication. Rapidly collecting and understanding what information is being shared will help OHA meet its mission to detect and respond to potential threats to national health security,” said John Matchette, who leads Accenture’s Public Safety agency work.