What is it?  Flu Near You was created by Healthmap http://www.healthmap.org/en/ of Boston Children’s Hospital, eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll’s nonprofit Skoll Global Threats Fund and the American Public Health Association. It’s free. It’s fast. Anyone age 13 or older in the U.S. can sign up.

All you do is report your health and influenza (flu) vaccination status weekly and then you can check in periodically and see what is going on in your area.

Their theory is that “people could be the fastest signal of when flu starts to spread in different communities. And they believe that participatory surveillance is a way of managing and dealing with many the health threats that are out there. Eliminating pandemics is one of the goals of the Skoll Global Threats Fund.

Flu Near You has collected data from about 50,000 people. The goal is to get as many people to participate as possible. The nice thing about it: It doesn’t take more than a minute to answer the weekly survey. And you get to see a map of your area and look at the level of reported flu symptoms.

For a quick yet entertaining tutorial on viruses and the flu, go here and scroll down to “How A Virus Changes The World.” To sign up for Flu Near You, go to www.flunearyou.org