Approximately one in four people suffer from seasonal allergies in the UK and this number is on the rise. In response to increasing rates of allergies such as hay fever and asthma, researchers at the University of Manchester (in partnership with the Royal Society of Biology and the British Society for Immunology) have developed a smartphone app to monitor and record allergy incidence.
#BritainBreathing is the first nationwide app that allows the public to monitor their allergies by easily recording their symptoms. It is a citizen science project that aims to engage the UK public with research into allergies. Users will act as ‘citizen sensors’ by anonymously recording symptoms and location data to help scientists understand more.
Launched as a free app on Android, this technology enables greater self-management and understanding of personal symptoms. Its aim is creating a large open data set at a national level with safe secure data collection. Any identifiable information is not collected - only symptoms are. Location data is gathered automatically but this is only an estimate with a minimum of 500m distance from where symptoms are recorded, so the user cannot be pinpointed. The data from the app can be shared with researchers which can then be combined with publicly available data such as weather, pollen counts and pollution levels.
Entering symptoms is quick and easy and the information being gathered will help to build a comprehensive picture of the pattern and frequency of allergies and asthma across the UK. Researchers are planning to use the data collected to map allergies across the UK. This allergy map will be available for the public to view and use to explore the data as it will display symptoms being recorded by people around the country.
Using digital technology will hopefully provide a clearer picture about the triggers, causes, and rates of allergies. Such research and technology could aid improvements in management and prevention of allergies for the benefit of the public.
If you would like to find out more and get involved visit britainbreathing.org