By Peter DeHaan, PhD
Google announced that it knows about flu outbreaks before the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) — really.
It’s an amazingly simple, yet elegant solution. Using their vast database of user searches, Google has determined that they can predict and report on a flu outbreak up to two weeks before the (CDC), merely by watching for an increase in flu related searches.
According to the Website google.org/flutrends, “We’ve found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems.”
Check it out — especially the demo in the “How does this work” section — it’s really quite interesting.
By the way, at this point in the flu season, we’re doing better than most years.