April 27, 2009 By Chad Vander Veen
With more than 40 confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S. and the number expected to grow because of the virus's novelty, government agencies will be expected to respond quickly as conditions warrant. Thanks to the emergence of Web 2.0, several helpful online maps, mash-ups and wikis are available to help keep officials in-the-know. Here are a few examples, though it's nowhere near an exhaustive list:
The HealthMap is a Web Site that aggregates the occurrence of disease outbreaks and plots them on a map. The data comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, World Health Organization, Google and other sources. The HealthMap has launched a map dedicated to swine flu.
A user claiming to be a biomedical researcher and who goes by the screen name "niman" has created a Google Map that tracks reported, suspected and confirmed Swine Flu cases.
Several user-generated wikis about swine flu are sprouting up across the Web. One example is at Wikia.
The Centers for Disease Control is maintaining a Web page with an official tally by state of confirmed swine flu cases.
Are you looking for breaking news in near real-time about the latest swine flu cases in your jurisdiction? There's perhaps no more powerful tool than Twitter Search, which is the search engine for the popular short messaging Web site. Citizens from around the world are posting thousands of updates per hour about the influenza's latest developments. It's a great example of "crowdsourcing." The Centers for Disease Control also has its own Twitter page.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.