An iPhone application called Swine Flu Tracker–not yet enables users to track confirmed cases of the flu, check health alerts, and to learn about about its symptoms.
When the Black Plagues struck Europe during the middle ages, communication was poor, and pestilence spread rapidly before anyone had an indication of where it might strike next.
The 1918 flu pandemic was better understood, but the public was still largely in the dark save for newspaper reports. Nearly a century later, technology has made it possible to track pandemics from your pocket.
Web 2.0 technologies are being leveraged in innovative ways to monitor the spread of the flue. It’s an intriguing exercise of modern messaging platforms, and in the event of a real emergency, people could turn to the Web to help themselves, and more importantly, help each another. But reality is that most places in the world are not in a state of emergency.
I am not going to discount the public health threat posed by the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus, and I deeply regret that toll it has taken on human lives. When healthy young adults are killed by their own immune response, it’s an even greater tragedy.
The overall public understands that the virus could mutate – that is why governments are taking serious measures to monitor it. Mechanisms are in place throughout the world to safeguard public health. In the United States, the Centers for Disease control even has a Twitter account (@CDCFlu) where relevant information is posted.
That said, my advise is not to install this application (assuming Apple gives its okay) unless you enjoy self abuse or want to be nominated as hypochondriac of the year. Want to track where the virus has spread? Try Google Maps.
Unless you are told otherwise by the authorities, please chill out, go outside, enjoy the weekend, and remember to wash your hands. If you think you may be ill, stay away from crowds like you should any other time that you are sick. Common sense isn’t rocket science, but you may need a rocket scientist’s salary to pay for anti-anxiety medications if you install this application.