Here at Sickweather, when we're not making Merchant Ivory puns about influenza, we continue to break new ground using social media to forecast illness. This cold & flu season is no exception. With our successful call of an early flu season in the US six weeks before the CDC (see: AllThingsD), we established just how powerful crowd sourcing and social media can be as an early warning system for identifying illness outbreaks. After all, six weeks is a lot of lead time to get a flu shot, start taking your immunity-boosting home remedies, or boarding up your windows and doors.
For the first time ever, the water cooler conversations that we all have about sickness, trying to find connections between our Aunt Sue's cough and our co-worker's son's sore throat, have finally been given a platform that allows those conversations to be aggregated, filtered and mapped on a global scale, in real-time, so that we can finally identify Aunt Sue's cough as related to flu and that your co-worker's son's sore throat is strep, and that the two of them are completely unrelated.
To date, we've filtered over 30,000,000 tweets, Facebook updates, and Sickweather reports; 8,000,000 of which have been qualified using our patent-pending process with 90% accuracy. This amount of real-time data, combined with historical data from the CDC and Google Flu Trends, is what gave us a crystal-ball-like view of the flu this year. In fact, our data of flu season to date shows that we are still near the peak of flu season, but possibly (hopefully) starting to level off.
As you can see, it's still a mess out there, so be careful and don't forget to wash your hands!
Submitted by Graham Dodge, CEO & Co-Founder