We recently spoke with John Brownstein, Ph.D., co-creator of HealthMap (www.healthmap.org), a global leader in utilizing online informal sources for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats. SciCast partnered with Healthmap and the Discovery Analytics Center at Virginia Tech on a series of questions about the 2014-2105 flu season in the United States. Predict now: https://scicast.org/flu.
For the flu forecasting challenge (https://scicast.org/flu) participants are required to predict several flu season characteristics, at national and at regional levels (10 HHS regions). For some of the required quantities — such as peak percentage influenza-like illness (ILI), and total seasonal ILI count — one may argue that national level values have some relationship with the regional level ones. Or, in other words participants may be led to believe that national level statistics can be obtained from regional level ones.