If you were sitting on the bus this morning, wondering if your neighbours are coming down with something – well, now there's an app for that.
The Sickweather Map is now available on your smartphone and alerts you to the illness in your midst. The app works, according to its creators, by plotting on a map reports of flu and colds on Twitter and Facebook. It then warns users that they are approaching "sick zones" as they travel through their day.
"What users do then is up to them," Graham Dodge, the CEO and co-founder of Sickweather said in a press release. Some options he suggests: wash your hands, get the flu vaccine, buy medication pre-emptively. But "net effect of this new real-time awareness," he predicts, "will reduce the spread of illness."
On the other hand, Canadians might do well to wash their hands regularly, based on the sniffling and hacking around them. After all, the Sickweather website is cautioning that the "common cold, cough and sore throat are going around in now Toronto."
The germ report is much the same in Ottawa and Vancouver, except that "fevers" and not "sore throats" are on the prowl. Basically, winter has arrived. Break out the hand sanitizer.
In the interest of germ-light social planning, subscribers to the app can also find out which friends are feeling under the weather, and use that information to either "recommend remedies" as the site suggests, or, wisely bail on that movie date.
The site is a little hard to figure out – with its orange triangulating of "symptom activity," but presumably if we all start dutifully reporting our sniffles, the data will get more precise.
Or if you would rather sit alone on the bus, or shorten the lineup for coffee at Starbucks, just tweet "Ugh, I have the flu," and clear the way.