There's a social media campaign
that's supposedly going to track the spread of the flu this season. I heard about a similar plan for this type of project last year. This could be that same project at its early planning stage or another similar tracking program.
It's an fascinating and particularly powerful tool
to help track troubling new outbreaks of community wide highly contagious communicable diseases.
Early detection and early response are key to preventing the spread of any disease.
Makes sense, but how do you detect disease outbreaks in real time?
While important systems exist for reporting and tracking disease, they’re not perfect, missing those who don’t go to the doctor, and a bit slow because it takes time for reports to be collected and sent to health departments.
We believe that letting individuals report symptoms in real-time can complement traditional tracking while providing useful information directly to the public.
Created by epidemiologists at Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital and The Skoll Global Threats Fund, Flu Near You relies on voluntary participation from the general public, asking you to take a few seconds each week to report if you or your family members have been healthy or sick.
We analyze thousands of reports and map them to generate local and national views of influenza-like illness, providing public health officials and researchers with real-time, anonymous information that could help prevent the next pandemic.
With your help, we can all see what’s coming and - better still- you have the knowledge to protect yourself and your family against disease.
On the other hand, with a lack of transparency, a similar attempt could be abused in one hell of a deceptive marketing campaign for a for-profit big pharma corporation.
What do you think about this? Will you take part of it and volunteer to be tracked? Will you shy away from this social media experiment out of fear or cynicism or indifference?