Why should we OutSmart Flu?
Every year, flu season hits right in the middle of the school year, with cases occurring from September to May and peaks in illness during the winter months. Students who get the flu are more likely to miss classes and exams and other parts of the college experience. Early awareness of a flu epidemic on a campus like ours can help each of us to take preventive measures such as washing our hands longer and more often, getting the flu vaccine, and getting extra rest.
How does OutSmart Flu work?
We created the OutSmart Flu app to crowd-source surveillance of flu symptoms at UW-Madison. You report any flu-like symptoms, if you have them or not. The data are then compiled and current flu activity on campus will be made available to you. OutSmart Flu aims to detect flu epidemics early to help members of our community take action to protect themselves and others from getting sick. There is power in social action.
Why a smartphone app?
Like everyone, college students are attached to their Smartphones and use them for health-related purposes like calorie recording or exercise tracking. So, why not symptom reporting?
Right now, University Health Services (UHS), who works with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor the flu epidemic on campus, but they rely on the students who come into the clinic with flu-like symptoms. Since most people search their symptoms on the Internet before seeing a doctor, in 2010, Google showed that they could detect flu epidemics two weeks earlier than CDC, but they do not make the data available to specific communities.
Since most students have and use Smartphones and earlier detection of flu epidemics is possible, we developed OutSmart Flu. Essentially, what we have done is to crowd-source flu surveillance on campus. We want to detect flu epidemics as early as Google and to see if this earlier awareness can help members of our community take action to stop the spread of flu on campus.
We invite you to join OutSmart Flu.