SickCity to predict next pandemic via Twitter?

Want to see what kind of colds, flus, or other maladies Twitter users are experiencing? SickCity shows you in real-time.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn

Twitter has been great for tracking things like earthquakes, forest fires, and other natural disasters, but what about human health? SickCity, a new Twitter mashup is doing just that, by tracking people's tweets about being sick, having sore throats, and other physical maladies (like zombification). The tool lets you track these occurrences both by city and each specific ailment. And the stats go back to the last 31 days, which can show you if a certain type of sickness is trending.

Google rolled out something similar for flu trends back in November of last year, however that's based on people's searches on Google.com along with historic data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SickCity, on the other hand, has more up to date information, albeit from a smaller portion of users, and the added benefit of letting you drill down to a city level (something Google doesn't do). In the future, I'd love to see the tool integrate both sets of this data: that of Twitter users, and the results from Google. This could make things really interesting.

Coming soon as an additional source of data for SickCity will be status updates from Facebook, which should make good use of that new "What's on your mind?" box. If "braaaaains!" starts showing up, SickCity may be the first place to give you warning of the zombie apocalypse.

SickCity shows you the latest Twitter messages about certain colds and other ailments down to a city level. CNET Networks