The Weather Channel App Can Now Forecast Your Flu Risk

IBM Watson is using big data and AI to make localized health predictions

screenshots of the weather channel app's new flu insights feature
Flu Insights With Watson is only available through The Weather Channel app in the U.S.
IBM

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.—According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza caused more than 20 million hospitalizations in 2018. And with peak flu season approaching again, The Weather Company has expanded its use of big data to serve up localized flu risk predictions.

At Adweek’s annual Brandweek summit, Randi Stipes, CMO of the IBM-owned Weather Company, unveiled the new AI-powered feature within The Weather Channel app called Flu Insights With Watson.

“Historically, the flu information available to us as consumers has been current or past flu activity,” Stipes said. “And any type of predictive flu information out there wasn’t local enough.”

Tapping into multiple data sources including weather, anonymized health data, search ads and social data, Flu Insights With Watson uses artificial intelligence to assess local influenza risk up to 15 days in advance.

The company already uses weather data for advertising, so the move into predictive modeling for weather-driven ailments was a logical next step. And with 47 million monthly active users of The Weather Channel app, this new feature gives brands yet another tool to reach its active audience.

Editor: Josh Rios

“It was important to us to create an exclusive and organic opportunity for a brand to provide added value to the users who trust and rely on The Weather Company for information,” Stipes told Adweek.

CVS snagged the spot as first brand partner, offering a coupon as users click through the app’s flu-related content.

“Using this data, we can help families better prepare for the flu and stay healthy,” said Scott Gregory, vice president of pharmacy and health services marketing at CVS. “It’s another example of delivering on our purpose—helping people on their path to better health.”

These local flu insights will be available only in the U.S. this year—and influenza predictions are just the beginning. “We look forward to applying key learnings from Flu Insights With Watson to allergy season,” Stipes added.

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