Since we launched SickCity on March 10th, the site has spread quickly around the world. The tool allows users to activate the service for their own city from the sickcity.org website, and users have responded, creating a version of SickCity for more than 55 cities around the world as of this writing. (Many of these are still having data imported for them this very minute.)
Clearly it's a fascinating service to follow.
The equally important issue, of exactly how well it works as an alert system, is harder to determine at the moment. After all, it's impossible to get realtime disease data for cities (which is why people at DIYcity built SickCity, of course). The premise is sound though, and we're confident that over time, with enough refinement and addition of new data, this kind of detection will get better, it will grow, and maybe eventually become commonplace.
For now, SickCity should be looked at as a compelling first start at city-level, realtime disease detection. Which is, in a sense, a historical first, especially in that it works for multiple cities simultaneously. Imagine if John Snow had had access to this kind of data during the London Cholera outbreak of 1854. This kind of realtime analysis at the local level is only going to get better and better as tools improve. And we at DIYcity intend to be pushing that envelope as much as possible.
If you want to help the team working on the project to make SickCity better, write to us at email@example.com and we'll put you in touch. And if you want a version of SickCity in your city, go to the site and add it!
And congrats to the team that got it off the ground and continue to refine it.
The new DIYcity Challenge is now online in Discussions here:
Check it out.
The DIYcity Challenge for this week is this: come up with a DIYcity Challenge.
What is something in your city that is ripe for improvement? What service could be done better (or cheaper) using open, participatory web technologies? What is an instance where your city government is approaching the solution to some problem all wrong?
In other words: what are the real problems that need solving, exactly? And which of these problems is the low hanging fruit?
There are lots of policy people, planners and people with ideas about their city on this list - this is your chance to speak up and help inform the building that goes on via the Challenges here on DIYcity.
All answers must be in the form of a Challenge. All answers will be reposted as DIYcity Challenges.
Post your response/challenge below.
Greetings DIY Portland. Wanted to post a link to your group in case you missed it in the Discussions or Main group: DIYtraffic, launched a few weeks ago (and still in deep beta) has a version running for Portland:
Live heterogeneous feed of traffic alerts to your Twitter account. You can query it for info on a specific street or highway and get the results DM'ed to your phone.
Details on how to use it, how to extend it, etc, here:
New versions on their way.
Enjoy, use, give feedback, make better.
Hey there DIY New York - wanted to post a link to SickCity in NYC for those of you who aren't tuned in to the Discussions Group or Main Group.
See SickCityNYC here: http://sickcity.org/USA/New%20York
Looks like flu mentions have been steadily on the decline for a couple weeks now. Phew.
SickCity is in rapid evolution right now, getting better day by day. If you have suggestions for how to improve it, post them to the site.
More apps coming for NYC!
Hey DIY SF - posting these links in case you all aren't subscribed to the Discussions or Main group, and because well, they belong somewhere in the DIY San Francisco section. They are the San Francisco versions of DIYcity apps that have launched in the past couple of weeks, for your use, enjoyment, and improvement:
DIYtraffic for San Francisco: http://twitter.com/traffic_sf
SickCity for San Francisco: http://sickcity.org/USA/San%20Francisco
explanation/documentation for each at:
Both of these apps are being improved on pretty quickly right now by a couple of folks. If you have suggestions, post 'em on the site.
More apps to come!
Came across the site for BBC Backstage
"backstage.bbc.co.uk is the BBC's developer network to encourage innovation and support new talent. Content feeds are available for people to build with on a non-commercial basis."
Some prototypes that are leveraging these feeds:
Disruption alerts for UK train services by Twitter
BBC Programmes via Jabber
Infused News and Entertainment
Track Playing updates
The team who put together SickCity, which launched just three days ago, have already put out an upgraded version of it. This 1.1 version addresses a lot of UI problems that had been noted, makes the pages a bit friendlier on the eye, has a more accurate algorithm for measuring conversation about disease, and addresses a slew of other minor things as well.
Mostly though, in my opinion, it just looks awesome now. Something you would spend a lot more time looking at than the previous version.
God it will be great to get those maps actually working with data, huh?
Anyway, please check it out. Here are links straight to city pages, for those of you living in these areas:
New York: http://sickcity.org/USA/New%20York
Austin, TX: http://sickcity.org/USA/Austin
San Francisco: http://sickcity.org/USA/San%20Francisco
For those of you not living in those areas, there is a form on the home page of the site to add your city to the system - give it a try.
From the Daily News:
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants to "eliminate the middleman" of the city's 311 phone system and let callers access city information directly from their hand-held devices.
"You look around New York on the subway, on the ferry, you see almost everybody with some kind of hand-held device, an iPhone, a BlackBerry," Quinn said Sunday.
While any of these people could dial 311 to get an address for the nearest firehouse or library, Quinn said the city should devise a way to let them download that information from the database the 311 operators use.
Bloomberg calls it "a brilliant idea".
Article here: http://bit.ly/HkSv7
So the question came up yesterday on this thread whether anybody knew of a reliable RSS feed for traffic updates in Barcelona. Since that was in the Main Group I though we should end the thread there and restart it here in Discussions.
And I decided to go one step further and open it up as a general question for everyone everywhere: what is the best source for traffic updates in RSS for your city or country?
If we can figure that out for a lot of countries other than the U.S., we can get DIYtraffic up and running in lots of places around the world.
I created a wiki page stub for people to add to if they have any knowledge on this issue.
Do you know of an RSS feed for traffic updates? Post it to the wiki!