Did you know that 9 days before the World Health Organization officially announced the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, an online tool called HealthMap flagged a “mystery hemorrhagic fever” in southeastern Guinea? This revolutionary tool, accessible both online and through its mobile app, collects data from tens of thousands of sources—including government and health organization websites, as well as news and social media sites, and online networks used by infectious-disease specialists. Using a sophisticated algorithm provided by a company called Epidemico, it identifies disease and location patterns, thus enabling it to pinpoint both local outbreaks and global epidemics at the moment they are emerging.
The potential of this service is massive. Not only can it help epidemiologists and other frontline health workers save lives, but it also provides valuable information for parents, international travelers, and news organizations. With an intuitive and user-friendly interface, users can filter data in a variety of ways, view maps, and educate themselves about symptoms. So, for helping the world stay informed and aware, I am nominating HealthMap for the Best New App category, and I am also nominating Epidemico for the Best New Platform or Service.