Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. Do teams need to provide both a url and the full source code for the application at the time of submission?

    Teams and individuals only need to provide a working url (as well as the other deliverables) for their submission. You will not be required to upload your source code at this time. When a winning entry is chosen we will work with that team to upload the source code.

  • Q. Could you clarify where the idea of this challenge came from and how you envision the winning app being used?

    This challenge competition was generated based on discussions with State and Local health authorities about their desire to be able to harness social media information on health in their community and their struggles with being able to do so with limited staff and budget. There are many reasons they would like to have this information, early indications and warnings of health issues emerging in the community is just one of them. Each health department is different and we are not dictating how this information is to be used by them on the back end; our concern is having a way for them to access the information in the first place.

  • Q. For geolocation, is there any requirement for how geographic areas should be defined (city, zipcode, lat/long, etc.) or for how the end user picks their geolocation (dropdown menu, free text, etc.)?

    There is not a a set requirement on how your app should define geographic areas or how the user should be able to select their area of interest. We know there are multiple ways to approach this requirement and we are interested in how each team/individual chooses to do it in their app.

  • Q. Will my app be kept confidential once it is submitted?

    Yes, all submissions will be kept confidential. We will not distribute the links or information about the submissions to anyone outside of the technical advisor panel. All parties involved in this challenge are sensitive to the time and effort each team is putting in and we will not jeopardize your great ideas!

  • Q. Once the submittal has been made, can we continue to make improvements to the app? And, if so, will the site portion of the judging be based on the day of submittal or the day of review?

    For the judging of your app, it will be judged based on what the tech advisors and final judge see when they go to your site. There will not be a snapshot taken on the day of submission, so the site will be judged on how it looks whichever day the tech advisor/judge looks at it. Judging will be during the months of June – August. All contestants keep the intellectual property rights to their submission, so you may makes changes to your app at any time. Just keep in mind that any changes made during judging could be taken into account.

  • Q. Are teams able to omit some “terms” from disease sets without risk of disqualification?

    Our data set of terms is made up of consumer terms for illnesses based on a study by the National Library of Medicine. All entries should use the terms in the list in their final product. Teams are welcome to add additional terms that help with detecting discussion of disease and/or employing filtering and natural language processing to improve their tool’s ability to accurately identify disease discussions.

  • Q. May federal employees participate?

    Federal Employees may participate as long as they meet the following criteria:

    (1) May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment;

    (2) Shall not be an HHS employee working on their applications or submissions during assigned work hours;

    (3) Shall not be an employee of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response;

  • Q. Many tweets do not have geolocation data associated with the specific tweet. Is it acceptable to use methods of to geolocate the tweets, such as user profile location?

    Yes! One thing we are excited to see is how each team handles geolocating the health information. We are open to any (legal) means of providing location data for tweets including user profile data (understanding the limitations of the accuracy of this method).

  • Q. Is this challenge posted on Challenge.gov?

    Yes, this challenge is posted on challenge.gov at the following link: http://challenge.gov/HHS/334-now-trending-health-in-my-community

  • Q. Does my team need to be incorporated prior to or after submission?

    There is no requirement for you to incorporate prior to or after submitting. We can understand that it may be in your best interest to do so, but we do not require it.

  • Q. What type of documentation is required for the final submission?

    The following elements are the basic requirements for submission:
    - a title
    - a link to your tool/app
    - a description of your submission in the form of a slide presentation (10 slide maximum) or a document (5 page maximum)

  • Q. Can my entry go beyond the basic requirements to distinguish itself?

    Absolutely! While all entries are required to meet the basic requirements list under the “Rules” tab, we highly encourage you to go beyond the basics. Innovation is one category by which all entries will be judged. These innovations may include but are not limited to: adaptability to categories beyond diseases, reduction of noise to improve data quality, refinement of geolocation ability, etc.

  • Q. How will my entry be judged?

    All entries will be judged on the following criteria:

    1. Accessibility:  Each entry will be rated on its ease of accessibility.  Preference will be given to applications that are easily accessible to a wide range of users, including those with disabilities, on a variety of platforms.
    2. Innovation:  Each tool must meet the basic requirements for entry in the competition.  Beyond the basics, each entry will be rated to the degree of new thinking it brings to applications targeting health surveillance.  Innovations that help refine the tool’s output or add additional knowledge beyond the top five trends are encouraged.  These innovations may include but are not limited to: adaptability to categories beyond diseases, reduction of noise to improve data quality, refinement of geolocation ability, etc.
    3. Usability:  Each entry will be rated on its ease of usability and interactive capabilities.  Entries will be judged based on the user interface for selecting the location of interest for reporting and on the user ability to interact with output data.
    4. Potential for impact on ability to gain/maintain health situational awareness:  Each entry will be rated on the strength of its potential to help health authorities increase their knowledge of emerging health topics in their population of interest.
  • Q. If my team has access to the full Twitter feed, can we use that instead of the Twitter API?

    The ultimate end goal of the Challenge is for State and Local health departments to be able to use this product for situational awareness without hassle or additional expense.  If you were to use the full feed in your app, the use of this feed would need to be available to the states and locals (i.e. they should not be required to purchase the Twitter feed in order to use your app).  If you keep that consideration in mind when creating your app, you may use the full feed.  See the Rules tab for complete submission requirements.

  • Q. Can students at a US university that are non-US citizens compete?

    Non-US citizens cannot compete as an individual or member of a non-workplace affiliated team, regardless of whether they are a student or not.


    If a student that is a non-US citizen is an employee of a US affiliated company (including if they are employed by their college/university), they can be a member of a team that is headed by their place of employment.  For example, if University ‘X’ (which is a US based university) enters a team for the Challenge, a non-US citizen employee at that university may be on University ‘X’s team.


    See the Rules tab for specific details related to eligibility.

  • Q. How is the Now Trending: #Health in My Community Challenge different than anything else out there?

    There have been many impressive retrospective studies on how closely social media reports of disease match with surveillance system reports. This challenge aims to take existing research and technology approaches a step further to detect emerging illnesses as they happen. Additionally, the winning app is intended to serve as an accessible and useful tool for public health situational awareness for Health Departments at all levels.

  • Q. Can my app look at international trends in health?

    All apps submitted must be able to be used domestically since the aim of this challenge is to enable State and Local public health practitioners to use Twitter data for health situational awareness.  However, if you have an interest in having your app look internationally as well, we highly encourage you to build it that way.  One of the judging categories it innovation beyond the basic requirements, so this would be an excellent addition!

  • Q. Can non-US citizens participate in the challenge?

    Unfortunately, by our legal limitations, all participants must be US citizens or non-US citizens that participate as an employee of an entity that is properly incorporated in the United States. The complete rules and wording for this requirement can be found under the “Rules” tab.

  • Q. Why is the Now Trending Challenge Important?

    The uses and benefits of social media are quickly expanding far beyond the realm of “social.” Social media has become a source of news and data collection in and of itself. Now, studies are showing that trending topics on social media can serve as an early indicator and warning of emerging health issues within a community. At a recent Forum hosted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, state and local health practitioners expressed their desire to more easily access social media data.

    The Now Trending Challenge was created to help fill this need. The data collected on a daily basis would be sent to state and local health practitioners to use in a variety of ways including building a baseline of trend data, engaging the public on trending health topics, serving as an indicator of potential health issues emerging in the population, or cross-referencing other data sources. This challenge will offer the opportunity for an individual or a team of technology savvy individuals to showcase their skills at the national level while helping to advance the field of health analytics.

  • Q. Will the winning tool collect or store personal information about people who sent Tweets?

    That is not the intention of this Challenge at all. No personal information will be collected or stored from Tweets.

  • Q. If I do not win, will my code still be used?

    No. If your entry is not selected as the winner, you will retain full ownership of your code. We hope you will be able to use it for innovations in the future!

  • Q. Can I have multiple submissions?

    Absolutely! You may enter as many times as you want, either as an individual or as a member of a team.

  • Q. How old do I have to be to enter?

    You must be 18 years old to enter. For complete eligibility requirements, please visit our Rules page.

  • Q. What is the Now Trending Challenge?

    The Now Trending Challenge is a contest that aims to make Twitter a more user friendly information source for public health practitioners at all levels, from local health departments all the way up to the Department of Health and Human Services. Twitter can be a “noisy” place to look for data, but this challenge aims to make it easier to pull out the relevant health information from Tweets in a specified area and make sense of what health concerns exist in a community. For a complete description of the Challenge, look under the “Requirements” section on the Rules page.

  • Q. What if I still have questions?

    You can contact us with questions through the Contact Form.