Development and testing of the media monitoring tool MedISys for the monitoring, early identification and reporting of existing and emerging plant health threats
Brunetti Fernández, Josep Maria
Virgili Gomà, Jordi
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MedISys is a media monitoring system initially intended for news items related to human health. The tool has how been extended by the Joint Research Centre, Universitat de Lleida and IRTA to also deal with plant health threats. This EFSA-funded project was based on a knowledge representation approach that generated an ontology, a formal representation of knowledge related to plant health threats. The ontology models plant pests and diseases, together with other concepts related with them: affected crops, hosts, vectors and symptoms. First of all, a collection of news sources related to plant health threats was collected to be monitored by MedISys. These sources included already known manually curated Web pages but also additional ones discovered by performing global Web searches using terms appearing in the ontology. Then, the news items coming from these sources were filtered using MedISys using a set of categories with keywords to identify those actually about plant health threats. Most of these categories focused on known threats and used terms associated with the 117 pests and diseases selected at the beginning of the project. Additionally, categories for unknown threats were also developed. In this case the categories included keywords that are usually used by experts to describe unknown threats and keywords related with symptoms expressions. All these MedISys categories combined provide mechanism to monitor plant health threats mentions in media, from newspapers to social media, ranging from those that explicitly mention a named threat (useful to monitor re-emerging threats or their spread) to those related to unknown ones (to monitor potential new threats). The project concluded with an evaluation of the e-mail alerts and reports generated by MedISys based on the previous categories. A survey and tests with real users were conducted and the results analysed to generate a set of recommendations and improvements to facilitate the use of MedISys as a plant health threats monitoring tool.