Tracking the Flu with Big Data

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fnyby Angela Guess

Nic Halverson of recently discussed how Big Data is being used to track this year’s flu. He writes, “As one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, things have gotten so bad in Beantown that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared a public health emergency. So far, 18 people have died and the city has experienced 700 reported case — 10 times as many reported cases as last year’s flu season. Flu shot or no flu shot, the rapid spread of the virus may have you feeling a bit helpless. However there are a string of new apps and websites coalescing user data that can help you avoid the flu altogether and help cities prepare for the worst.”

He goes on, “Recently launched FluNearYou is a public safety project in collaboration with the American Public Health Association and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. Anyone 13 years of age or older can register to complete a weekly survey of symptoms in effort that the shared data can help multiple sectors with pandemic preparedness. Data is made available to public health officials, researchers, disaster planning organizations and anyone else who may find this information useful. Germ Tracker culls symptom data from social media platforms and tracks the virus, via a map, as it spreads. Upon publication of this post, the site was “experiencing heavy user traffic” and politely excused any potential delays.”

Read more here.

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