A new application for iPhone users from the MIT Media Lab provides the latest news and updates on swine flu outbreaks. The application, “Outbreaks Near Me,” builds upon the mission and proven capability of HealthMap, an online resource that collects, filters, maps and disseminates information about emerging infectious diseases, and provides a new, contextualized view of a user’s specific location – pinpointing outbreaks that have been reported in the vicinity of the user and offering the opportunity to search for additional outbreak information by location or disease.
When using the application, the user can first view hotspot locations where outbreaks have been reported – viewed on Google Map. Zooming in the user can then click on an icon to reveal more information about that specific outbreak (news items are pulled from various sources providing more context). A very cool feature is the ability for users to receive alert notifications base on user-defined criteria. For example, you can easily setup an alert to receive notices about various outbreaks for diseases like Horse sickness, swine fever, cholera, or many others. Perhaps the most useful feature is the reporting capabilities where users can submit details of outbreaks along with location information and photos.