Social media data has been used to predict where in the UK could be next to experience a spike in coronavirus cases.

The UK currently has 60,733 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 7,097 deaths. In this context, predicting where the virus could spike next is important in order for emergency services to prepare.

According to Dataminr, a real-time information discovery company, the next UK areas to experience a spike in cases will be Manchester, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, Leeds, Northamptonshire and Luton.

Using social media data to predict future spikes in coronavirus cases

The company uses its artificial intelligence platform to identify clusters of coronavirus-related social media posts emerging in particular geographical areas.

It analyses public social media posts, rather than posts that simply mention Covid-19. This includes posts from people specifically indicating they tested positive for Covid-19, people posting that they are experiencing symptoms, people indicating they have been exposed but not tested, first-hand accounts of confirmed cases from relatives, friends, and colleagues as well as Covid-19 related supply shortages and closures.

From this, Dataminr has identified a pre-outbreak pattern in social media data, indicating the areas where the virus could strike next.

According to Dataminr, this method has has previously correctly identified outbreaks of coronavirus cases in London, Hertfordshire, Essex and Kent, seven to thirteen days prior to spikes in case numbers.

On March 30 Dataminr predicted a Covid-19 outbreak in 14 US states, with each state experiencing a case spike within 7 days of the study according to official Covid-19 case counts published by Johns Hopkins.

The same trend of social media clusters emerging in advance of a spike in cases also occurred in other countries, including South Korea, Italy, Spain, Iran and France.

Dataminr is working with hospitals, health systems, and emergency services, as well as the London Mayor’s Office, to help them anticipate future spikes in case numbers. It is also working with the UN and the World Health Organization.


Read more: UK Covid-19 symptoms mapped using health app user data.