Social Media and Public Health


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June 2014 Denver Public Health Grand Rounds presentation. Covered social media stats, emergency response, ephemeral apps, story-telling and big data.

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  • Boston PD, that first day, found social media to be SUCH a powerful force, this is the radio call they made while the bomb squad searched the hundreds of bags left all around the finish line.
  • This tweet was sent mere minutes after the arrest of the second suspect in the Boston bombings. Approved on-site by tweeting Deputy Commissioner John Daley it demonstrates how quickly information moves these days.
  • And you can see how this worked from a mobile perspective. That yellow line on the left chart is when ConEd cut the power to lower Manhattan, you can see the huge spike in homes without power. The red arrow on the right chart is pointing at the exact same moment in time on the 29th. When the power went out, people didn’t stop using social media, in fact, they used it more! People got on their phones and kept right on tweeting away.
  • Social media isn’t only useful for massive, huge, world-changing disasters, y’know. A couple of weeks ago, my hometown made the national news due to a botched demolition that fell into an active Salvation Army store. Six people ended up dying, with more than a dozen others getting transported to hospitals. The fire department, being the coordinators of PA Task Force 1, the local Urban Search and Rescue team, was incident commander. Police maintained the scene. Emergency management and Red Cross supported the responders and response. The Health Department was not, and should not, have been called in. Because things were so busy for those other agencies, the social media aspect of the response ended up not happening, despite massive media interest and posting on social media networks, especially Twitter.

    I got the call from our Commissioner’s Office to start retweeting the response agencies posts and sharing information updates as they were approved for release. Not as part of a JIC, but just as a way to broaden the scope of the City’s public information releases. The problem was that I was returning from a conference in Raleigh, North Carolina and was watching what was going on on CNN in the airport bar! So I pulled out my trusty iphone, connected to a power source and went to work. We retweeted every response agency’s tweet. We looked for elucidating information and diagrams. We gave updates on public transit changes. We communicated the boundaries of the response and asked folks to stay away to the responders could do their work. At one point, our account name was the second-highest trending term on Twitter in Philadelphia. We became the single, best source for official information release from a City agency. Not because we were specially placed in a JIC or because we were privy to inside information. It’s because I had a few hours to kill in an airport bar and a phone. That’s the power of social media today in emergencies.
  • Twitter faster than earthquakes video
  • Social Media and Public Health

    1. 1. Social Media and Public Health James Garrow Philadelphia Department of Public Health
    2. 2. 1. intros 2. stats 3. emergencies 4.the future 5. fin
    3. 3. ‐ 71% of online Americans have Facebook accounts (85% of US is online) ‐ 63% of users check it daily ‐ 40% check multiple times per day
    4. 4. ‐ 18% of online Americans have a Twitter account ‐ 46% of users check it daily ‐ huge media use, mostly mobile
    5. 5. ‐ 21% of online Americans have a Pinterest account ‐ 23% of users check it daily ‐ use HIGHLY correlated with women (4:1)
    6. 6. stats
    7. 7. between six and eleven percent of Americans would interrupt sex to check social media messages!
    8. 8. emergencies
    9. 9. during Hurricane Sandy, when all else had failed, NYC depended on social media to ask for help, rebuild their community …and survive
    10. 10. NYC homes without power tweets sent via mobile
    11. 11. the future
    12. 12. 1. ephemeral apps 2. have conversations 3. tell your stories 4. big data
    13. 13. ephemeral apps (it’s about privacy!)
    14. 14. · Snapchat · Whisper · YikYak · Tinder
    15. 15. Whisper
    16. 16. Tinder
    17. 17. Tinder
    18. 18. have conversations (be social!)
    19. 19. tell stories (why do you do what you do?)
    20. 20. “In big data lies the potential for revolutionizing, well, everything.” ~HSPH
    21. 21. Foodborne Chicago searches Twitter for food-poisoning-like tweets, and directs sanitarians to follow up with clusters.
    22. 22. we don’t need public health folks. we need data scientists, folks who see the mortar, the meta, the relationships.
    23. 23. 1. social media will go away 2. we need relationships 3. more data than we ever dreamed possible
    24. 24. Q&A what did we forget? @jgarrow