iPhone App Tracks Diseases

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Apple made waves recently when it pulled an app from its iTunes App Store that helped users detect and locate sex offenders. Now though, an app has appeared on the App Store that allows users to track disease outbreaks.

Outbreaks Near Me

Word comes via CNET that the app named, relatively simply, Outbreaks Near Me, is a fairly simple affair, constructed by a combination of MIT’s Media Lab and the Children’s Hospital of Boston. It takes reports of disease outbreaks/incidents and adds them to a Google Maps view.What’s particularly interesting about this app isn’t just that it tells users where diseases have cropped up, but that it allows a very large user base the ability to see disease outbreaks develop over time. If nothing else, we imagine it’ll be a joy for epidemiologists.

Moreover, the app gives users the ability to submit their own outbreak notifications, which lends the whole thing the somehow less scary feel of a collaborative work, rather than a service just telling us where to avoid if we’d rather not be exposed to certain ailments.

Of course, there are two big worries about an app like this. The first is that it could well spark panic, with one reported case leading to empty schools or workplaces, but the other is that nefarious individuals may submit their own falsified outbreak reports, a practice made easier by the fact that they can do so from the app itself.

If nothing else it certainly seems to be a novel use of the iPhone and iPod Touch’s App Store. It’ll be interesting to see if we see more similar apps. If you’re interested, there’s a CNET review of the app you should check out.

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