Tracking Disease Outbreaks and Health Disparities using Big Data, Social Media, Social Network Analysis, and GIS.


Fri Feb 20, 2015


Ming-Hsiang Tsou
San Diego State University



Data Modeling and Integration





Real time public health data capture using Big Data and social media are now at the forefront of behavioral measurement, disease surveillance, and health promotion in many public health research activities. Public health research community is now rapidly reexamining the role of dynamic environmental-behavioral interactions and how both elements of this interaction can be modified to promote optimal health in the areas of obesity, cancer, HIV, influenza, alcohol and drug misuse research. There is a great opportunity for geographers and GIS specialists to collaborate with public health researchers and practitioners to develop comprehensive research framework, web maps, and visualization tools to promote health behaviors, detect disease outbreaks, and prevent health problems. This webinar will discuss the impacts of big data and social media to disease outbreak surveillance and health disparities problems. Several web applications developed by the Center of Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA) ( at San Diego State University will be introduced to demonstrate the value of social media analytics, including SMART dashboard for city-level flu outbreak monitoring tasks and GeoViewer for studying environmental-behavioral interactions



Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou is a Professor in the Department of Geography, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the Director of the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA).  He received his Ph.D. (2001) in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research interests are in Human Dynamics, Social Media, Big Data, Internet Mapping, Web GIS, Mobile GIS, Cartography, and K-12 GIS education. He is co-author of Internet GIS, published in 2003 by Wiley and served on the editorial boards of the Annals of GIS (2008-), Cartography and GIScience (2013-) and the Professional Geographers (2011-). Tsou has been served on two U.S. National Academy of Science Committees in 2006 and 2013. In 2010, Tsou was awarded to a $1.3 million research grant funded by National Science Foundation, "Mapping ideas from Cyberspace to Realspace" ( research project (PI, 2010-2014). In Spring 2014, Tsou established a new research center, Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (, a transdisciplinary research area of excellence at SDSU to integrate research works from GIScience, Public Health, Social Science, Sociology, and Communication. In Fall 2014, Tsou received a NSF Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Science Research (IBSS) award for “Spatiotemporal Modeling of Human Dynamics Across Social Media and Social Networks” (PI, $999,887, 2014-2018) ( This large interdisciplinary research project studies human dynamics across social media and social networks, focusing on information diffusion modeling over time and space, and the connection between online activities and real world human behaviors.