The 6th Tony Kent Strix Annual Memorial Lecture 2020, hosted by the UK electronic information Group (UKeiG), took place on Thursday, 26th November 2020, and was regarded as a great success by the organisers. It was delivered by the 2019 Strix award winner Professor Ingemar J. Cox, Department of Computer Science at University College London.
Professor Ingemar J. Cox is Head of UCL’s Media Futures Research Group and a Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen. His current research interests include information retrieval and data analytics of online social media, twitter and query logs. Professor Cox’s 2020 Strix lecture was entitled: ‘Analysing Web searches for public good: inferring the health of populations and individuals.’
“Traditionally, information retrieval seeks to find relevant content (e.g. documents, images, videos) in response to a user’s query. However, a user’s queries also reveal information about the user. This information can be used for many purposes,including personalising Web search results, and facilitating personalised/targeted advertising. In this talk, I will describe ongoing work we are conducting that analyses users’ Web searches to infer the health of populations and individuals. At the population level, we discuss methods to estimate prevalence and virulence of a disease, and effectiveness of national public health interventions (vaccines and changes to law). Our work has mainly focused on influenza, but we will also report recent work on covid-19.At an individual level, we discuss methods to stratify users into disease risk groups, and to predict the likelihood of specific diseases, including some forms of cancer. These methods have a variety of advantages for public health surveillance and individual health. However, these same methods raise significant privacy and ethical concerns. We discuss technical solutions to address privacy at a population level and highlight concerns at an individual level.”
See also a paper co-authored by Professor Cox entitled Digital technologies in the public -health response to COVID-19 published in Nature on 7 August 2020
The event was opened by Martin White who is Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd and a Visiting Professor at the Information School, University of Sheffield. His presentation was entitled ‘Defining the enterprise search experience.’