SickCity: Realtime Disease Detection at the Local Level
DIYcity, an open source platform that enables a community of users to develop technology solutions to common problems faced by cities ranging from transportation to healthcare, recently launched its latest application. SickCity provides realtime disease detection capabilities at the local level by mining popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to find key words such as flu, fever or chicken pox that indicate that an individual is ill, under the guise that increasingly people are turning to these networks to tell their friends how they’re feeling. The results are then plotted on chart showing 30-day trends for a particular city, giving a snapshot of the overall health of a localized population. A sudden spike in sickness can provide an early warning to health officials that action needs to be taken, perhaps preventing a widespread outbreak.
The team of developers are working to fine tune this first version and recognize that a bit of study will be in order as the system is allowed to function in the real world. In its short life span, the application has already attracted the interest of one public health group who wants to correlate SickCity’s findings with public records on disease in cities which can only broaden its effectiveness and scope.