North Sea Technology

Why is Flu Severity our Focus?

Flu Severity Tracker came about as the fire department I was a Battalion Chief with in 2009 tried to come to grips with the 'Swine Flu' influenza strain. Warned of a severe flu and concerned for our firefighters and community we developed a robust set of operating protocols based on differing levels of severity. 

Once the flu season started in the fall of '09 we began executing our plans and to our horror discovered that there was no readily available severity indicator/source for influenza. As a government entity tasked with protecting the public we were unable to get anyone to commit to anything other than "We can confirm there is flu activity in the county." 

Thankfully, that flu year did not develop into a worst case scenario but we had identified a critical missing component in the response to a pandemic situation. Continued discussions with fire, health care, disaster preparedness, and government agencies in our area failed to unearth a source for flu severity indicators. Flu spread, flu presence, and flu strain type are all readily available but we were unable to find anyone who would present an early warning to a flu causing an unusual number of deaths.

In the spring of 2010 I set to work to remedy the situation; collecting data, exploring technology to disseminate information, and working on research in association with a Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science from Idaho State University. Flu Severity Tracker is the result.

I'd like to say that as a result of my work I am comfortable with our society's state of readiness and ability to react to what is an inevitability. Unfortunately, we are not even close to prepared - Flu Severity Tracker is simply an early warning system and it the response to that warning that will determine how successful we are in rebounding from the impacts of a severe flu outbreak.

Virus in the Airway/Lung
The sign in the window reads '9 Million dead in 3 months'.
A nurse draws water.
This is the result of the parade.
The W shape death curve
Why year round tracking is necessary