The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking a "social media analytic tool" that will give the government access to "full Twitter historical data," according to a solicitation released on Tuesday.
The agency is seeking feedback for a "possible future acquisition to provide near real time social media analysis." HHS said it wants to use the tool for "ongoing monitoring" of public health issues.
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HHS provides a long list of requirements, including "access to real-time social media posts," and "access to full Twitter firehose."
The agency requires an archive that goes back at least five years of "full Twitter historical data." The government will also need "access to multiple account log-ins," "real-time alerting," the "ability to construct lengthy Boolean searches," and a function that can filter search results based on the location of a Twitter user.
Under "additional attributes that we would find useful," HHS said the "ability to export full data into excel or another spreadsheet program" would be beneficial.
HHS said it would use the social media tool for public health concerns and emergencies such as Superstorm Sandy. "In the midst of an event we want to know when hospitals and/or nursing homes are evacuating patients," HHS said under "scenarios of how we would utilize this tool."
"We conduct on-going monitoring of certain public health issues," HHS said. "An increase in the level of discussion on social media could indicate a new development or concern related to that issue."
The Office of the Secretary of HHS filed the solicitation, arguing that social media monitoring is necessary since the agency is responsible for ensuring "preparedness" for public health threats and emergencies.
Within HHS, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is responsible for coordinating the department's "operational response to acts of terrorism and other public health and medical threats and emergencies."
HHS said OEM's "Division of Fusion" can use social media as a "non-traditional" data collection tool to respond to health emergencies and natural disasters.
"Social media and open source data analytics play an important role in filling gaps in traditional data collection and help our office provide insights to decision makers to aid them in making informed decisions to protect the health and welfare of impacted populations during emergencies," the agency said.
HHS is seeking responses no more than five pages in length by March 3.