Image via physorg.com
Its not all fun and games on the iPhone. In fact, some things in life are quite serious. Arguably one of the greatest communicable threats to the general public this winter could be the Swine Flu. As a result, a new iPhone app can help keep you informed of where the illness is and also how it's expanding.
To monitor the nearest outbreak of the pandemic H1N1 influenza, iTunes is introducing an app called: "Outbreaks Near Me."
Although it may sound a little peculiar and like the ultimate hypochondriac's iPhone application, the program was developed by the IT wizards at Children's Hospital Boston and the MIT Media Lab. The app is free and allows users to monitor, track, and report outbreaks of Swine Flu in real time. Given the severity of the potential pandemic, the popularity of the app is growing faster than the illness itself.
The application, "Outbreaks Near Me," builds upon the mission and proven capability of HealthMap, an online resource that collects, filters, maps and disseminates information about emerging infectious diseases, and provides a new, contextualized view of a user's specific location - pinpointing outbreaks that have been reported in the vicinity of the user and offering the opportunity to search for additional outbreak information by location or disease.
Clark Freifeld, the co-founder of HealthMap, says the reporting process for HealthMap represents "grassroots, participatory epidemiology." It also illustrates, in my view, how technology made possible through devices like the iPhone will ultimately come to be more greatly appreciated for the potential lives it can save and not so frequently disparaged for the time it can also waste.
HealthMap was founded in 2006 and mines the Internet - searching disparate data sources such as news reports, curated personal accounts, official alerts, blogs and chat rooms - to track and map infectious disease outbreaks.