Title: MedISys: A Multilingual Media Monitoring Tool for Medical Intelligence and Early Warning
Citation: Proceedings of the International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC Davos 2008 - Short and Extended Abstracts p. 612-614
Publisher: Global Risk Forum GRF Davos
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC45523
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC45523
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Most Western countries have an institution with the task of detecting and monitoring potential threats to Public Health (PH) in their countries, i.e. chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, which can be natural (diseases), deliberate (terrorism) or accidental. One of the daily duties of these PH bodies includes monitoring the local, national and international media for reports on disease outbreaks, on the disappearance or the release of dangerous substances, etc. This typically involves identifying and analysing relevant news articles in up to half a million news reports per day in various languages. In order to facilitate this task, the European Commission¿s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in collaboration with the EC¿s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection (DG SANCO) has developed the fully-automatic Medical Intelligence System MedISys, which takes away many of the routine tasks of this process and detects early warning signals that can be used as a starting point for the daily media review. MedISys gathers news reports in 42 languages from about 1,500 web portals and twenty commercial news providers, filters documents of potential interest to PH officials, categorises them, monitors trends and alerts users of an unexpected increase of articles in any of the fine-grained categories, separately for each country of the world. MedISys allows to customise the view of reports to specific languages, subjects and news sources. It furthermore allows moderators to select, group and disseminate the information to further user groups, via email, SMS, web pages and PDF reports. A challenge faced by all PH organisations is the fact that a lot of relevant information is only available in foreign languages and that employing experts in all the languages is expensive and difficult. By aggregating the information found in many different news articles in all the available languages, MedISys can automatically issue warnings to users (through graphs, email alerts, etc.) as soon as relevant information appears in any of the languages covered, and often before the information is published in the user¿s own language. MedISys is actively used by international organisations such as EC¿s DG SANCO, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ECDC and the World Health Organisation WHO, by many PH bodies inside the European Union (e.g. the French Institut de Veille Sanitaire and the Spanish Instituto de Salud Carlos III), as well as by various bodies outside the EU (e.g. the US-American CDC and the Canadian Global Public Health Intelligence Network GPHIN). A public web site with restricted functionality, available at http://medusa.jrc.it/, is visited by an average of 1,000 distinct users per day. The speaker will give an overview of the challenges faced by Public Health bodies, describe the main functionality of MedISys including the features that distinguish it from other media monitoring systems, and talk about the ongoing collaboration in the G8¿s Global Health Security Action Group GHSAG with the purpose of further increasing the usefulness of the system.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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