There’s an app for just about everything – and now they’re being used to help understand how diseases spread. The question is; would you be happy to have your movements tracked for the greater good?
Where can the world of mobile technology go next? I’ve seen a couple of stories this week that got me thinking about some potential new uses.
As well as allowing us to run our lives from our pockets, could smartphones also now have a part to play in stopping us from getting ill?
Your health is being tracked
The BBC reported on the FluPhone app that could help monitor the way infectious diseases are spread. In a trial of volunteers with the app installed on their mobile, it was able to record how many people each ‘ill’ person came into contact with.
The app developers say that, with these people’s permission, the data collected can be used to help us to understand the way disease is spread. And could even inform the way medical advice is given by the Government in the case of an epidemic.
Alternatively, if you start feeling ill you could turn to Twitter. The Guardian reported on an online service called Kazemill which monitors health-related tweets.
It uses the tweets to map hourly updates on how symptoms are spreading and could be rolled out worldwide next year. There are plans to develop the service further and create an illness ‘forecast’ for common ailments like cold, flu and hayfever.
Time to shun privacy concerns?
Now while I don’t wish to panic anyone about the potential outbreak of disease, it does seem like ideas like these – although perhaps not quite fully formed or perfected yet – could have some use.
If we can use mobile technology to gain insights that might minimise or manage an outbreak of illness then surely it’s worth considering?
There’s been, quite rightly, a lot of concern about privacy and tracking in the news recently – like Apple’s iPhone recording users’ movements – but I think it’s interesting to turn things on their head. Could tracking in this case be a force for good?