I came across an interesting article on GISuser.com about a new app for the iPhone that is designed to track outbreaks of infectious diseases like H1N1. The app "Outbreaks Near Me" provides users with real time information about the location of both the user and where the infectious disease was recorded.
The application was created by the Children's Hospital Boston with help from MIT and Google.org. The app works on information based from the health information website HealthMap, which maps and provides information on infectious diseases from around the world. The purpose of the new app according to "John Brownstein, PhD, assistant professor in the Children's Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP), "As people are equipped with more knowledge and awareness of infectious disease, the hope is that they will become more involved and proactive about public health." It is interesting that we now have the capability to map and track infectious diseases on the go, and we can be alerted if we are entering an area where infectious diseases have been reported to be a problem. This provides ways for people to become active in their own health and allows people to be aware of what their surroundings are, which can allow them to prepare for potential problems. I think this app is a good example of why GIS and GIS related technology is becoming increasing popular. The practical knowledge that GIS can provide is becoming more widespread, and the need for GIS users, programmers, and researchers is also becoming more important. I expect that as smartphone and GIS technology improve we will continue to see more and more apps. that allow us to track things that we view as problematic. It won't be long before there are apps. to track crime, housing health, and other social problems. This app is a good example about where GIS is heading, and the need for diverse options within GIS is becoming increasingly important.