A new, free iPhone app from the creators of HealthMap shows the outbreaks of the H1N1 swine flu in your area and elsewhere. The app, called Outbreaks Near Me, finds your location and shows a map with red pins indicating recent outbreaks.
The app updates every hour using reports from more than 30,000 sources. Users can report updates such as school closings through the app. The app was launched last month and now has been downloaded 81,000 times.
Red pins dot the state of California, with heavy concentrations in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Perhaps one of those red pins includes my friend (and many in his East Bay company) who came down with the swine flu a couple of weeks ago.
There are no warning signs, he says. One day you’re happily working in your cubicle, and the next you’re fighting a fever, vomiting and worse. He lost eight pounds in only a few days after losing his appetite for food and liquids. Luckily, I hadn’t caught up with him in a while.
John Brownstein, an assistant professor at Children’s Hospital Boston and one of HealthMap’s creators, told the Wall Street Journal that the goal of the free app isn’t to spark panic, rather to spread the word. To this end, he says, an app solely running on the iPhone isn’t ideal. HealthMap is currently developing an app for Google’s Android and, later, for RIM’s BlackBerry.
Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer for CIO.com. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.