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Google Flu Trends uses web search to track real flu

Posted by: Emily McManus

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From Google.org (headed by 2006 TED Prize winner Larry Brilliant) comes this neat data display: Google Flu Trends. The project came about after some Google search engineers wondered if, in communities where more people searched on the term “flu,” there might actually be more flu. After talking with the Predict and Prevent group at Google.org, they came up with a tool that, they write:

uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems.

An animated graph shows how, last year, Google data edges the CDC‘s. You can also visit the site to find the nearest available flu shot in the US.