Frequently asked questions
What is #BritainBreathing?
#BritainBreathing is a citizen science research project that aims to engage the UK public to act as ‘citizen sensors’ to help scientists understand more about seasonal allergies such as hay fever or asthma. By taking part, you can track your own symptoms and help scientific research into seasonal allergies at the same time.
We have launched a free app that allows people to record their allergy symptoms in a simple and straightforward way and then safely share that data with the project team. This large open data set can then be used by researchers and combined with other publicly available data (such as weather, pollen or pollution statistics) to build a better understanding at a national level of allergy and allergy triggers. This is a joint project between the British Society for Immunology, Royal Society of Biology and The University of Manchester.
What will I need to do if I agree to take part in the project?
You will first need to download the free #BritainBreathing app to your phone. It is available on Android and iOS. Once downloaded, you will need to fill out a few questions about your year of birth, gender and allergy type. Your phone will also ask if you want location tracking enabled – please allow this. It means that we can match your symptoms to where you are and the conditions in your area (e.g. weather, pollen levels, pollution levels).
You can then start entering data on the app. You will be asked to record how your allergy symptoms are currently affecting your eyes, nose and breathing. The app has been designed to be as simple as possible to use. Entering the data should take less than one minute to complete each time you do it. Once you start entering data, you can view a series of graphs to see how your symptoms change over time.
Do I have to enable the location service on my mobile?
You may already have location tracking allowed across all your apps as default. It you don’t, please allow location tracking for this app so that we can collect your rough GPS position. This means that we can match your symptoms to what conditions are like in your area (e.g. weather, pollen levels, pollution levels). To protect anonymity, we will only use your approximate location for mapping and analysis purposes.
How long will these tasks take?
Recording your symptoms will take less than a minute. It is up to you how often you choose to enter your symptoms into the app. For best results, we recommend that you aim to enter data daily – you can set a daily reminder via the app. However, you can enter data as often, or as little, as you like.
What are the benefits to me of taking part in #BritainBreathing?
This app is primarily intended for research purposes to create knowledge about seasonal allergies that will benefit us as a society. By improving our knowledge of when and where allergy symptoms occur, we hope that our research will be of benefit to people with allergies in the future. By taking part and using the app, it is possible that you may also personally benefit from better knowledge of your own symptoms and allergy triggers. You will also have access to the shared data via our website to see when and where allergies are occurring and see what news we have on our findings.
Will I get any feedback about my data or about the study results?
The app will allow you to track your individual data over time. Once you start entering data, you will be able to view a series of graphs to see how your symptoms change over time.
On this website, once we get data, we will launch a national map for 2017 where you can see how people around the UK are experiencing allergy symptoms. You can already see the results we gathered in 2016 on our data visualisation page. To protect anonymity, we will only use your approximate location for mapping and analysis purposes.
If you sign up via this website to receive news updates, we will send you regular emails about the project’s progress, including any reports or publications we produce about scientific findings.
Does the study have ethical approval?
Yes, #BritainBreathing has ethical approval from the School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester. You can read more in the project’s Participant Information Sheet.
What will happen to my data and how will it be used by researchers?
By downloading and using the app, you agree to share your data with researchers as part of the #BritainBreathing research project. Only anonymous data will be collected and the data will never be linked back to you. All data are stored securely at The University of Manchester and are accessible only to researchers. We do not ask for names and/or any other information that may identify individuals. Furthermore, we will only use your approximate location at postcode district level (i.e. the first part e.g. M14) with the level of detail limited to 500 metres for mapping and analysis purposes. Therefore no one will be able to recognise who the data belongs to.
What if I don’t want researchers to see my data?
By using the current version of the app you agree to share your data with researchers as part of the #BritainBreathing research project. Only anonymous data will be collected and the data will never be linked back to you. You can use the app without providing details of your gender, year of birth or allergy type (just proceed directly to My Symptoms). However, data about your symptoms will still be shared. In future versions of the app, you will be able to turn off data sharing. However, this is currently not possible so if you don’t want to share your data with researchers you can stop using the app at any time.
Will taking part in this project affect my mobile phone bill?
Data collected by this study will count against your existing mobile data plan. For an average user, we expect the amount of data used by this app to be low. We don’t expect extra costs to your mobile phone bill as a result of using the mobile phone app for the vast majority of users.
Why do I need to download a new version on the app on Android for 2017?
For 2017, we have made some changes to the app to allow us to carry out more intricate analyses of the information that we collect. This has meant that we need to launch a completely new version of the Android app. To continue to participate in the project, users of the last year’s app will need to download the new version from Google Play (search for ‘BritainBreathing’).
I don’t live in the UK. Can I still use the app?
You are welcome to use the app for the purposes of personal tracking. However, at this time we are unable to generate maps of symptoms or report on findings outside of the UK.
How long do I need to enter data for?
We would like participants to enter data on an ongoing basis. However, this is entirely up to you and you are free to stop using the app at any time.
What should I do if I want to stop participating?
It is your choice to enter data onto the app and you can stop this any time you wish. If you decide to re-start data entry, we would be pleased to receive your data again. If you stop entering data, you will continue to receive daily notifications whilst the app is still installed if you have signed up for these.
I have allergy symptoms. Can you give me any medical advice?
No, we are unable to provide any medical advice. If you are concerned about any allergy symptoms you experience, you should consult with your GP or other healthcare provider in the first instance. We have some links on the further resources section of this website that provide suggestions for further places to find out more information about allergies.
Who do I contact if I have any technical issues with the app?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who do I contact for further information or to provide feedback about the app?
Please email us at email@example.com.