The University of Wisconsin Madison Population Health Sciences Department recently partnered with Survey Analytics to develop a smartphone app for students, faculty and staff that is spreading, shall we say, like the flu itself.
The app, fittingly, will be used to track flu activity on campus. This crowdsourcing experiment will allow real-time flu surveillance data to be captured through an app called OutSmart Flu, now available for download through the iTunes and Google Play stores.
Led by Population Health Sciences professor Dr. Ajay Sethi and doctoral student Christine Muganda, this experiment will gauge if a smartphone app and social engagement can predict flu outbreaks more quickly than traditional clinic-based reporting.
Through smartphones, participants of OutSmart Flu will be asked to answer general health questions and report if they are feeling well, sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms.
To track the flu in the U.S. currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnerships with 3,000 clinics across the U.S.
“With OutSmart Flu, we are crowd-sourcing flu surveillance at UW-Madison,” says Dr. Sethi. “Beyond just collecting the data, we are making it available in near-real time to our campus community. Students, faculty and staff – whether sick or well – likely want to know if something is going around on campus, especially as we approach peak flu season. Our app might encourage those on campus to be more aware of when the virus is going around, to encourage taking precautions like washing hands a little longer or making an extra effort to get the flu shot.”