• iconForecasting
  • iconNetwork Science
| August 1, 2012July 4, 2016

EMBERS is a system for forecasting societal significant societal events from open source surrogates.

EMBERS is a fully automated 24×7 forecasting system for significant societal events using open source data including:

  • tweets,
  • Facebook pages,
  • news articles, blog posts,
  • Google search volume,
  • Wikipedia,
  • meteorological data,
  • economic and financial indicators,
  • coded event data,
  • online restaurant reservations (Open Table),
  • satellite imagery.

EMBERS is sponsored by a contract for over $22M from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Open Source Indicators (OSI) Program. Unlike retrospective studies of forecasting, EMBERS processes massive data streams into alerts of significant events which are emailed in real-time as they are generated.  EMBERS has been making forecasts into the future since November 2012, which have been evaluated by an independent party. Key event classes studied in EMBERS include influenza-like illness (ILI) case counts, rare disease outbreaks, civil unrest, domestic political crises, and elections.

EMBERS generates 45-50 alerts per day across multiple countries of Latin America. In March 2014, EMBERS was named as the winner of the OSI forecasting tournament. Key events forecast by EMBERS since project inception include protests after the impeachment of Paraguay’s president (May 2012), the “Brazilian Spring” (June 2013), Hantavirus outbreaks in Argentina and Chile (2013), violent protests led by Venezuelan students (Feb 2014), and presidential elections in Panama and Columbia (2014).


The EMBERS effort is lead by DAC with a team of both internal and external partners. 

Internal VT departments:

  • Computer Science
  • Statistics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Biocomplexity Institute
  • Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech


  • University of Maryland,College Park
  • University of California San Diego
  • University of California Santa Cruz,
  • University of Utah
  • University at Albany-State University of New York
  • Northeastern University
  • Children’s Hospital Boston
  • San Diego State University
  • University of Michigan,
  • the companies CACI Inc. and Basis Technology  


Supporting Documents


Naren Ramakrishnan

Chang-Tien Lu

Scotland C. Leman

Patrick Butler

Wei Wang

Fang Jin


Naren Ramakrishnan, Patrick Butler, Sathappan Muthiah, Nathan Self, Rupinder Paul Khandpur, Parang Saraf, Wei Wang, Jose Cadena, Anil Vullikanti, Gizem Korkmaz, Chris Kuhlman, Achla Marathe, Liang Zhao, Feng Chen, Chang-Tien Lu, Aravind Srinivasan, Khoa Trinh, Lise Getoor, Graham Katz, Andy Doyle, Chris Ackermann, Ilya Zavorin, Jim Ford, Kristen Summers, Youssef Fayed, Jaime Arredondo, Dipak Gupta, David Mares
In Proceedings of the , (pp ), 08/2014
Citatations: BibTeX

Jilles Vreeken, Christos Faloutsos
In , 38 1: 35--59, 07/2013
Citatations: BibTeX

Mohammed J Zaki, Naren Ramakrishnan
In Proceedings of the ACM , (pp 364--373), 08/2005
Citatations: BibTeX