The flu is a worrisome illness that kills thousands in the United States annually. Have you ever wondered how bad an influenza-like sickness, like the flu, is spreading in your respective community? Well, the citizen science project “Flu Near You” helps to answer that question while at the same time it is a preventative measure that could prepare you to help prevent the next pandemic.
The idea behind Flu Near You was conceived by epidemiologists from both Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital. Flu Near You leverages the power of the crowd to provide real-time information about flu-like-illness in your respective living or working areas. Basically, anybody can participate in tracking flu-like-illnesses in your area.
This is how Flu Near You works. All you need is internet access and a smartphone or computer. On their SciStarter project page or on their own project page, participants are asked to complete a quick, like 30 seconds maximum, weekly survey to share whether you feel healthy or sick. Participation is voluntary and your individual report is treated confidentially.
At the end of your data collection, you are given a health dashboard of your community that shows how well your community and neighboring ones are doing flu-wise. The following health dashboard shows the health of my community in Seattle as of Friday, April 10th, 2020, noon PT.
So, what happens with your data? Scientists will use your data, along with thousands of other reports, to generate local and national maps of influenza-like illness. This important crowd-sourced information provides public health officials and researchers with real-time, anonymous information that could help prevent the next pandemic.
Participating in a Flu Near You can help keep our communities healthy and strong!