Research Spotlight: COVID-19 and Rozita Dara

Posted on Thursday, April 9th, 2020

Written by Joshua Lange

 Photo of Rozita Dara
Professor Rozita Dara, School of Computer Science

These last few months of world news has had one topic at the forefront: the novel coronavirus. This novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm, affecting the world on political, economic, cultural, and social levels. Research has shifted to combatting this virus on all fronts. Leveraging current technologies and research in AI and data science is allowing researchers to track the spread viruses through means other than official reports.

Within SoCS, research teams led by Dr. Rozita Dara are leveraging social media data to help build early warning systems for future outbreaks of COVID-19. Research found that up to one-third of the outbreak notifications reported on Twitter occurred earlier than official reports, specifically for the recent avian influenza outbreak. This suggest that social media might be able to be used as an early detection system for future outbreaks, whether it is to combat future waves of infection of COVID-19, or later disease outbreaks around the globe. Future research would focus on building up entire systems around such modeling systems, with the hope to assist in epidemiological identification efforts around the globe.

"We’re working with AI algorithms, the robots, and, so far, we have collected three million tweets related to COVID-19. Only two per cent of them have geo-location data but two per cent of three million is still a lot. So we are very excited to look at that and see if we can see patterns." Source: The Star

Dr. Dara’s research related to this can be found in a recent publication of Nature Scientific Reports

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