Current Infectious Disease Reports

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 316–319 | Cite as

Why We Need Crowdsourced Data in Infectious Disease Surveillance

  • Rumi Chunara
  • Mark S. Smolinski
  • John S. Brownstein
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In infectious disease surveillance, public health data such as environmental, hospital, or census data have been extensively explored to create robust models of disease dynamics. However, this information is also subject to its own biases, including latency, high cost, contributor biases, and imprecise resolution. Simultaneously, new technologies including Internet and mobile phone based tools, now enable information to be garnered directly from individuals at the point of care. Here, we consider how these crowdsourced data offer the opportunity to fill gaps in and augment current epidemiological models. Challenges and methods for overcoming limitations of the data are also reviewed. As more new information sources become mature, incorporating these novel data into epidemiological frameworks will enable us to learn more about infectious disease dynamics.


Crowdsourcing Surveillance Technology Bias 



Research reported in this publication was supported by grants from the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers G08 LM009776, and R01 LM010812 and

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Rumi Chunara, Mark S. Smolinski, and John S. Brownstein declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rumi Chunara
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Mark S. Smolinski
    • 3
  • John S. Brownstein
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Children’s Hospital Informatics Program, Division of Emergency MedicineBoston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Skoll Global Threats FoundationSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.BostonUSA

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