On November 20th, Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa wrapped up the 2013 season with guest speaker Shelley McKay. Shelley is a strategic consultant who is leading a pilot project that will use social media, analytics and predictive models using keywords and phrases associated with known risk factors, to identify youth suicidal behaviours/ideations at the earliest possible point. Shelley launched this project after her daughter tried to take her own life and subsequently experienced first hand how fractured our health care system is when it comes to youth mental health.
What Shelley is proposing with her pilot project is to utilize existing government monitoring tools to monitor social media channels for our at-risk youth. The program, she explained, can process 85,000 word a minute. A minute!! And it’s able to place context to the key words being processed. Meaning, the program knows the difference between someone saying they are going to “bomb a city” and a comment such as “that show was the bomb!” In the context of monitoring our youth, the program can analyze their mood, track mood trends and language patterns so parents, schools and hospital can take a proactive care approach rather than a reactive one. This is the first goal of the project. The second goal, Shelley explains, is to reduce the pressure on our region’s emergency rooms by proactively identifying youth in crisis and directing them to appropriate treatment.
Now as a marketer, you might be asking how it is possible to monitor people with our current privacy laws. Attendees asked just that. This, of course, is one of the hurdles that Shelley is currently taking on. Partnered with SAS, a leading company in ‘big data’, Shelley and her team are working with our government, schools, hospitals, such as The Royal Ottawa, and health officials to make this project concept a reality.
If you’d like to learn more about Shelley’s project, give her a tweet: @McKayShelley.
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