Sickweather App Tracks Disease, Helps Parents Protect their Kids

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As the school year starts, parents begin worrying about the oncoming storm of sicknesses. The CDC reports that 40% of kids 5-17 will miss at least three days of school because of illness. But what if parents could know where the next school flue epidemic would hit? What if they could prepare in advance, in order to minimize exposure and contamination?

This is the driving idea behind the new Sickweather app. Sickweather is an iPhone app that will track social media activity for varying levels of sickness. If a parent posts that their child has the flu, Sickweather will track the post's location.  If there are a series of reports in the same location, Sickweather will mark the designated area as a Sick Zone.  App users who approach the location will receive real-time alerts. Sickweather argues that users can use these alerts to avoid contaminated areas, or to remind themselves to maintain their hygiene. The app is currently available on the App Store.  Sickweather has not announced when its app will be available to Android users.

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Users will also have access to a live map and a daily forecast on the sickweather.com site. You can also receive daily email updates when selected diseases trend in a particular area.

The concept of Sickweather is really intriguing. Giving parents the ability to know when their children have a higher chance of infection could help keep them safe and minimize their sick days. However, we are skeptical about whether social media is an accurate means for tracking illness. How would Sickweather track posts that are protected by privacy settings?  How does the technology differentiate between the various uses of the word "sick" online? Sickweather has provided no additional info to explain how its app might work. 

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