You know when people talk about “that flu bug that’s going around” and you start to wondering who’s next and avoid touching doorknobs or handrails hoping that you’re spared from illness? Well, thanks to Indy-based big data solutions and strategy firm Perscio and some students from Purdue University, you can now watch flu spread in real time throughout the U.S. on a county-by-county heat map.

Perscio has submitted the project to the Big Data for Social Good Challenge offered by IBM and Hadoop, and you can help them advance in the competition by visiting the project site and voting!



The thrust of the challenge is IBM’s invitation to developers like Perscio to use their curiosity and talents to dive into a real world civic issue by analyzing a dataset with IBM Bluemix and creating a clickable interactive visualization that reveals meaningful insights. Bluemix is an open-standards, cloud-based platform for building, managing, and running apps of all types.

Perscio’s answer to the challenge was to create a “weather map” that predicts the spread of the flu down to the county level up to 5 days in advance, which they believe is a first for flu prediction.

“Since as many as 20% of Americans are affected by the flu each year, we felt that finding a way to track the spread of the virus and provide real time information about its likely path of spreading would be invaluable to the public,” said Brian Norris, Chief Informatics Officer at Perscio.

Perscio’s flu tracking app uses a simple model of flu spread based on analyses conducted by Perscio and students currently attending Purdue University. These data analyses are paired with a regression algorithm that actually learns over time and improves itself, and interactive visualization communicates the results of the computations. Using IBM Bluemix tools like Node red and sentiment analysis to analyze tweets, the team created “watch flu spread” as a public service that can help prevent the spread of flu by providing advanced disease prediction.

You can view their project submission here.

If you want to try out the map for yourself, you can access it here.

If you like what you see, please help show some pride for local innovation and vote for them on the project submission page using the yellow “Vote for this submission” button.

You can learn more about Perscio by visiting their website where you can download their latest whitepaper: There is A Big World of Data Out There.