The Northwestern Health Unit has launched a free iOS (Apple) mobile application for smartphones and tablets called the Healthy Environments app.
This is the first app to launch in our “NWHUConnect” app suite, which will enable the public to interact with health unit programs from their mobile devices.
This spring, we can look forward to warmer weather, which will draw residents to enjoy the many outdoor activities our region offers.
By downloading the app, the public can access up-to-date and relevant information on beach safety, safe drinking water, and the prevention of tick-borne disease.
This technology is expected to deliver accessible seasonal information to users who cannot easily reach the health unit's physical locations.
“The best part of the app is that the public will be able to access useful information even when they are outside of cell service areas,” noted Thomas Nabb, manager of Environmental Health.
The app will include notifications for local health hazard alerts that the public should be aware of, such as city-wide boil-water advisories, beach closures, extreme temperatures, and air quality advisories.
Another feature of the app will allow users to electronically submit photos of ticks found on humans from the trails, their boat, or their cottage.
Public health inspectors will review images to determine if it is a black-legged tick (deer) and contact the submitter with further information.
“People will still have to keep ticks in a container until it has been identified, but this will save a trip to our office if it is a wood tick,” said public health inspector Mike Mackie.
If the tick is identified as being a black-legged tick, it then can be submitted to the health unit inspector for surveillance of tick-borne diseases.
Currently, the app only is available for iOS (Apple) devices. The android version is in development and will be launched later in the year.
Other health unit programs also are developing mobile applications to make public health services easier to access.
To download the free Healthy Environments app, search “NWHU" or "Healthy Environments” in the App Store or visit www.nwhu.on.ca for the link.