Sickweather Offers Forecasts for the Good of Your Health

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The current change of the seasons means many things: Shorter days, the return of pumpkin spice lattes to your coffee shop and, of course, worries that the tickle in your throat may, in fact, be a sign of some terrible disease that’s just about to envelop your very being and make death itself seem like a tempting alternative. But if, like me, your tendencies lean towards the mildly hypochondriac, then don’t worry: There’s somewhere out there just for us.

Baltimore-based Sickweather is a social network with a difference; it wants to let you know what illnesses are out there, and how likely you are to catch them. “With more and more people turning to outlets like Facebook and Twitter to update their friends and followers as to when they get sick, there is now an immense amount of real time data available on the health of our population,” the site explains. Sickweather plans to use that information to create a “real time weather map” of symptoms across the country and, from there, offer forecasts of maladies to come.

The site, currently in beta, plans to simultaneously help users monitor their own health (and that of friends and families) as well as offer a captive audience for healthcare and pharmaceutical advertisers.

Cynical, yes, but it’s arguably a case where everyone wins; after all, isn’t it worth dealing with highly-targeted advertising if it means you manage to get a jump on that nasty flu bug that’ll wipe out half of your office next month?

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.