Wondering what cold is going around Eagleville? Have you got the flu in Audubon? Guess what? There’s an app for that.
No, smart phones have not found a way just yet to bring the sick back to health, but by using a new app called “Sickweather,” users can track and monitor the spread of illness in and around any community.
“Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather scans social networks for indicators of illness, allowing you to check for the chance of sickness as easily as you can check for the chance of rain,” explained the Sickweather website.
There, zoom maps are provided, allowing users to pinpoint exact locations. If a cold, fever, allergies or illness is found in the proximity, small blue cloud pins are stuck to the map. By hovering over the pin, users can find out what illnesses have been reported nearby.
“Use Sickweather to track illness, compare symptoms, and see which viruses are going around in your area,” said the site.
The app works in conjunction with Facebook, Twitter, Google-Plus and YouTube to scan for mentions of illnesses around a particular geography. Users may also choose to share symptoms by pinning a spot themselves.
Though no current illnesses are reported within the borders of Lower Providence Township, the Greater Philadelphia area is currently seeing a spike in allergies, the common cold, and fevers as October begins.
The app differs from governmental programs, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There, the agency relies heavily on “a variety of national, state and city sources,” for its National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.
Users of the CDC’s Tracking Network can find out what chemicals and other substances can be found in their neighborhood’s environment, what chronic diseases and conditions exist in proximity to a home and common symptoms or illnesses reported in “the area where you live.”
Maps and data with the CDC are difficult to track to a local level, and often at best can drill down to the state level. For example, researching cases of asthma in children, one can only find that the state level for Pennsylvania is 13.3 percent as of 2011 data, the most recent year on file.
With Sickweather, users can find update information, changed daily, to track more practically illnesses and viruses being reported more precisely in a community. Media contact Graham Dodge said that the Baltimore-based designers hope to help Philadelphians (and beyond) to “navigate through flue season” with updated “forecasts” for local areas.
“Sickweather uses a patent-pending process to track and map reports of illness on Twitter and Facebook,” said Dodge. “The forecast represents the top trending illnesses reported in any given area. The maps show clusters of activity as represented by a heat map, or individual reports as represented by a blue ‘SICK’ map marker.”
The company launched its app in November of 2011, with a beta version on a website. Now, it accurately reports over 600,000 illnesses each month. The app, currently available for Apple iPhones, is located on the App Store or by clicking here.