COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland university is helping Facebook collect data for a real-time map that shows the prevalence of self-reported coronavirus symptoms around the country.

Facebook released its first round of data one week ago. It was based on surveys they invited their users to participate in. Shown in county-by-county maps, the data is meant to help officials allocate resources, better understand how the disease is spread and which communities can eventually reopen.

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The U.S. map was developed by Carnegie Mellon who worked with Facebook to launch the survey in early April.


Now, the survey is launching worldwide and researchers, including the University of Maryland’s Frauke Kroiter, is helping to develop it.

“The goal is to create the questions so that everyone understands and can report,” Kroiter told WJZ.

It’s her job to help the survey get to every country in the right languages and in the right regions.

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But without Facebook, she said, it just wouldn’t have the same reach.

Working with Facebook is a fantastic opportunity,” Kroiter added.

The survey invites Facebook users to share if they have symptoms like fevers, coughing or shortness of breath and loss of smell; all symptoms of COVID-19.

“These self-reports, how people feel, can be very important to know what’s going to happen,” Kroiter said.

In a post on April 20, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, wrote:

Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling. We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses.

The survey and the data that comes from it can provide an early indicator of where the outbreak is growing and where the curve is flattening.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos