Sickweather Beta Review – Social Disease?

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Sickweather.com Launches in Beta – Being Sick is Social

 

Social Media Risk

“Just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather scans social networks for indicators of illness.”
 
By Karen Masullo, EVP Social Media, Firestorm

Baltimore-based Sickweather says they are a social network with a difference; their goal is to let you know what illnesses are out there, and how likely you are to catch them.

“With more and more people turning to outlets like Facebook and Twitter to update their friends and followers as to when they get sick, there is now an immense amount of real time data available on the health of our population,” the site explains.

Sickweather plans to use that information to create a “real time weather map” of symptoms across the country and from there, offer forecasts of maladies to come.

The site, currently in beta, plans to simultaneously help users monitor their own health (and that of friends and families) as well as offer a captive audience for healthcare and pharmaceutical advertisers.

As a Beta-Tester, I now have access to:

The Sickweather Map:
 
 
 
The map provides an overview of where symptoms occur in real time, like a weather map showing cloud and storm activity.

In my case, this is South Carolina. I can zoom in or out to see a smaller or larger region.  Handy if I’m traveling. I did not see a way to change my location however, a must have as a future feature.

When the view is zoomed-out there are polygons that represent groupings of individual of people talking about the selected symptom layer.

As you zoom in, the polygons may begin to “break up” to adjust for area density. Zoom in further still and you will start to see the individual points as represented by the Sickweather cloud icon.

The News Feed:

When you connect with your Facebook account (Twitter coming soon), you will be able to keep track of health related news from your online social circles. During Beta Testing, you will only be able to view these posts rather than interact with them, but more interactive features will come later.

I did connect successfully, and will be curious to watch this feature as it evolves.

Symptom Reporting:

To update Sickweather with your own symptoms, you use a dropdown menu of symptoms directly beneath your avatar.
 
Unlike other incident maps generated by reports from hospitals or other health institutions, this is user symptom generated; as a way to keep up to date with your social circle, it may be a nice to have, but whether it will provide real data for outbreak tracking and study is unclear. You can however send flowers or vitamins from the very targeted advertising on the site, so there’s that.

http://healthmap.org/en/ , http://www.cfr.org/interactives/GH_Vaccine_Map/index.html#map, and the Global Incident Map are examples of data gathering from thousands of sources.  Sickweather.com is – for now –  focused on your social circle. Hopefully we’ll see more as it evolves.
 

Social Media Risk and Reward

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