Boston this year suffered from one of the worst flu outbreaks in its history, with 700 reported cases and 18 deaths. Among other efforts, the city turned to big data to help keep this number from growing.
The new FluNearYou app, for instance, was created alongside the American Public Health Association and the Skoll Global Threats Fund to help stop the flu from spreading. The app surveys users to get a sense of their symptoms, stores and analyzes vast amounts of resulting data, and then produces reports to show users the flu activity in their region.
Another app called Help, I Have the Flu leverages big data and Facebook to help keep users healthy. The app, which was developed by pharmaceutical company Help Remedies, scans your friends' Facebook statuses for any mention of "sneezes," "coughs" or "flu." If these phrases are found, a notification is sent to the user, suggesting they may want to steer clear of the friends who posted them.