Flu Near You: Crowdsourced Symptom Reporting Spanning 2 Influenza Seasons

Am J Public Health. 2015 Oct;105(10):2124-30. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302696. Epub 2015 Aug 13.


Objectives: We summarized Flu Near You (FNY) data from the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 influenza seasons in the United States.

Methods: FNY collects limited demographic characteristic information upon registration, and prompts users each Monday to report symptoms of influenza-like illness (ILI) experienced during the previous week. We calculated the descriptive statistics and rates of ILI for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons. We compared raw and noise-filtered ILI rates with ILI rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ILINet surveillance system.

Results: More than 61 000 participants submitted at least 1 report during the 2012-2013 season, totaling 327 773 reports. Nearly 40 000 participants submitted at least 1 report during the 2013-2014 season, totaling 336 933 reports. Rates of ILI as reported by FNY tracked closely with ILINet in both timing and magnitude.

Conclusions: With increased participation, FNY has the potential to serve as a viable complement to existing outpatient, hospital-based, and laboratory surveillance systems. Although many established systems have the benefits of specificity and credibility, participatory systems offer advantages in the areas of speed, sensitivity, and scalability.

MeSH terms

  • Crowdsourcing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • User-Computer Interface