Mapping All of America's Illnesses

By The Atlantic Cities

A resident of Phoenix is down with the "man flu" -- the possibly mythical condition in which men experience illnesses more painfully than women.

This drippy, wheezy intelligence, possibly accurate or possibly not, comes courtesy of SickWeather, a website that attempts to crowdsource the health of cities around the world. (Motto: "Say It, Don't Spray It"). Co-founded by former U.S. Census crime-trend mapper Graham Dodge, the site presents a near-real-time map showing outbreaks of various illnesses as vast colored polygons; zoom in, and you can see the specific neighborhoods where people are kvetching about being laid out.

Hypochondriacs can spend a half hour or so filtering the results by malady. There are the usual suspects: common cold, stomach flu, pink eye, allergies, chicken pox. A few lesser-known afflictions also pop up, such as croup and "love sickness." When the terrorists finally find a way to weaponize the latter, we'll all be doomed.

How does SickWeather reach its diagnoses? Two ways. First, users can log on and pin their respective bugs onto the map. The company also uses a "patent-pending algorithm" that scans Facebook and Twitter for complaints of illness. This spider is intelligent enough to tell the difference between "I'm sick" and "Those were sick beats at the club last night." Likewise, it will pick up "The doc says I have bronchitis" but leave "Bieber fever 4ever!"

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/02/mapping-all-of-americas-illnesses/252933/