/publications/issue/2011/May2011/CDC-Invites-Diy-Developers-to-Tackle-Flu

CDC Invites DIY Developers to Tackle Flu

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Aside from a brutal case of influenza, what could convince patients that a yearly flu vaccine is worth the effort? Mobile health enthusiasts say a slick, clever smartphone app could do the trick—and experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are banking on it.

“Channel your inner geek to fight the flu” was the agency’s message to Twitter followers last April, when it officially launched the CDC Flu App Challenge. The event is coordinated through the US General Services Administration’s Challenge.gov project, which asks citizens to find solutions to government problems.

Open to anyone, the competition welcomes do-it-yourself developers to create mobile- and Web-friendly solutions that use CDC flu data to raise awareness and influence public behavior. The winners will be rewarded with cash prizes up to $15,000 and the chance to have their creations featured on the CDC Web site.

To qualify, apps must be designed for the Web, a personal computer, a handheld mobile device, or “any platform broadly accessible to the open Internet” and make use of at least 1 of 8 CDC flu data sets. The data sets include statistics on vaccine coverage and weekly flu activity in addition to patient-focused educational resources on how to prevent and manage influenza.

The rules encourage applicants to “mash up CDC data with any other publicly-accessible data feeds” and to “be creative” in advancing CDC’s public health goals. Submissions are due May 27, 2011, and the winners will be announced June 8. For more information or to vote on submissions, visit the Challenge.gov Web site.