Health-Related Geospatial Data and Social Media: Can You Harvest Geosocial Data?

Journal of Map & Geography LibrariesJournal of Map & Geography Libraries, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2011

John A. Olson

“Social media has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind lately. Some of us are still wondering how to leverage and use social media to further our library’s goals in reaching out to our patrons and users, let alone personal goals. But for some researchers, the question has been, “How can we mine these data and harvest the geospatial components to create meaningful datasets for mapping a specific topic or other need?” This has been on my mind as well. This column will begin to explore what is currently available to help mediate, sift, harvest, package, and display these geosocial data. I hope the sources and links shared here will encourage others to explore more deeply how social media data can be harvested and displayed from various outlets.

Twitter Add-In for ArcGIS Explorer (used with permission from Esri).

Twitter Add-In for ArcGIS Explorer (used with permission from Esri).

“We will focus on searching for health-related data on the Web, determining their currency and assessing the correct level of geography to map it to. Just finding health-related data in this context can be quite a challenge! These health-related data sources will be for specific time periods and are finite in content and size. Conversely, with social media data the content is always growing and moving at a feverish rate, and it is difficult to tease out specific topics related to health. So, let us begin with some of the basic resources first.”