Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Google tracks the flu

The Official Google Blog had an interesting piece about tracking the number of flu cases based on the number of of related searches done through Google. They've found that they can predict where flu outbreaks will occur. As they state:

"The CDC does a great job of surveying real doctors and patients to accurately track the flu, so why bother with estimates from aggregated search queries? It turns out that traditional flu surveillance systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release surveillance data, but Google search queries can be automatically counted very quickly. By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza."

This is kind of cool and thought provoking. What else can we predict about our society based on search trends?

[Image: Captured from Google Flu Trends: http://www.google.org/flutrends/]

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