New App Being Tested Uses Twitter to Identify Food Poisoning Outbreaks

19 August 2013
Ben Logan

Ben Logan


Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

With people opening up more and more on social media, the potential to use updates about their daily lives as a tool to identify related incidents of food poisoning as well as locate the source is made possible – a new app recently developed in Chicago cleverly harnesses this info.

The app searches Twitter for relevant keywords that could suggest an occurrence of a foodborne illness and flags these tweets for a team of developers to respond to. Individuals are then tweeted and asked to access an online user interface to file a food poisoning report, which is connected to the cities health service in an attempt to isolate incident trouble spots.

Not all of the reports filed are coming via social media though however – outside of Twitter, a lot of people are finding the form randomly as a way of logging an incident of food poisoning.

During its usability testing phase thus far, the app found almost 500 reports of food poisoning among 3.8 million tweets and identified a correlation between the cases it had identified and public inspection data.

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