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DHS tries monitoring social media for signs of biological attacks



The Homeland Security Department has commissioned Accenture to test technology that mines open social networks for indications of pandemics, according to the vendor.

The $3 million, yearlong “biosurveillance” program will try to instantaneously spot public health trends among the massive amount of data that citizens share online daily, company officials said in announcing the deal Thursday.

The business case for the new DHS program has not been proved yet, Accenture officials acknowledged. “Our pilot program seeks to prove this case,” said John Matchette, Accenture managing director for U.S. public safety. “In theory, social media analytics would have shown timely indicators for multiple past biological and health-related events.”

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