COVID-19 infodemic monitoring radio platform in development

May 4, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Global Pulse, the Secretary-General’s digital innovation initiative, announced they are embarking on a new venture to analyze content shared on public radio across the African continent to support infodemic monitoring.

Part of the wider infodemic management program, this collaboration will integrate radio data analysis into monitoring tools to inform the infodemic response by including more voices of vulnerable populations. Radio remains one of the most reliable and affordable ways of accessing and sharing information with some 44,000 stations worldwide as reported by UNESCO. People discuss everything from the light-hearted to the serious, including the effects COVID-19 is having on them, their families, and their communities. Often, opinions expressed in radio talk shows include first-hand accounts of incidents, and mis- and disinformation reported by citizens that may not be recorded elsewhere.

UN Global Pulse has worked on various projects to convert radio speech into text for vernacular languages and to analyze the information to understand perceptions. This collaboration will expand that scope by developing methods to capture and analyze content on topics that discuss COVID-19 and vaccination efforts across Africa.

The project is already off the ground with pilot studies to analyze information related to vaccines. In the coming months, the plan is to integrate more than 100 public radio stations and develop a custom-built monitoring and analysis dashboard that will allow public health officials, infodemic managers, and fact checking organizations to track changing questions and concerns, including mis- and dis-information, to gather insights that can inform public health decisions. The methodology will account for potential algorithmic biases along the artificial intelligence (AI) analysis pipeline, and the project will implement data privacy instruments developed by UN Global Pulse to mitigate the potential risks and harms associated with this technology.

By incorporating languages and voices that may often be excluded from official reporting and analysis, this effort aims to de-marginalize communities by better understanding their changing needs in public health emergencies. In future, custom language models could be built to incorporate a wider variety of languages and dialects spoken and support routine social listening of radio narratives as a way to continue strengthening accountability to affected populations for global health.

WHO has the release.

More COVID-19 coverage HERE.