Tag Archives: data

Protect Your Data!

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 1.59.16 AMWe  increasingly hear stories about government agencies falling prey to cyber (or direct) attacks and our data unintentionally getting into the hands of those willing to steal our identity or money for their own benefit.

It is also a prevalent trend in the political sphere that the government wishes to reel in our cyber freedoms. This seems to be mostly based in fear and a sense of being out of control.

I value my cyber freedoms and I believe that I am best suited to ensure them.

However, I would argue that the government shouldn’t even consider expanding the collection of our data or attempt to control our online interactions until they figure out how to protect the data they collect. The role of government ought to be to protect the constituency. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been happening. Rather, politicians have seemed, in recent years, more concerned with holding their seat from election cycle to election cycle.

If you care about this issue you should contact your policy makers to tell them about it.

In Minnesota you can find out who your representatives are by conducting a search on the state’s legislative website.

What do you think?
Tall me in the comment section below.

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Big Data Can Be a Big Help

Big data3

As we have been learning about big data in class, the pros and cons have been analyzed and discussed. Much of our discussion around the usage of big data has been on how it is used to sell things to us and/or manipulate our behavior for the profit of corporations. Since our discussion, I have discovered two examples of how the collection of big data is being used that I would argue are for the greater good of public health.

First is the tracking of Wikipedia flu symptom searches to monitor the trend of flu outbreaks. According to a Washington Post article, this is a much better way to gather real-time information, than gathering reported visits for treatment. For one, many people many never even go in for treatment at all, therefor missing out on the chance to even capture that data at all. Also, the Wikipedia searches usually happen as one is deciding whether to go to the doctor, so prior to their visit. The information then gets captured directly, and there is no delay waiting for the healthcare providers to get reports out.

This faster capture of better data creates the opportunity to prepare for outbreaks and to  decrease their severity. For instance, if a small community hospital can be warned that a wave of flu is coming in their direction, they can increase the amount of ventilators they have on hand. Schools & workplaces can put stricter policies in place around staying home when you are sick. Health care providers can more strongly encourage the use of vaccines.

The other example of the use of big data I found really made me cheer. Washington State is using a shared database of information on patients who visit the emergency room. They are saving money, $33.7 million reduction in 2013 Medicaid costs to be exact & reducing wasted services. I have seen folks abuse the use of emergency care so many times . They may be seeking drugs or attention, have no insurance, don’t have a regular doctor or just feel the world should serve them at their convenience. Additionally, many people don’t always remember what tests they have had done, when they were last seen or what the doctor told them.

The data base provides information that eliminates repeating expensive or risky tests. This increases patient safety, improves the accuracy of diagnoses and saves everyone time & money.

Although it is a weird feeling to have someone collect YOUR data, the data collected may one day be the key to helping YOU.