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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.

Comments (2)

  • ewen chia commented on Nov 15 2008

    Google is way too powerful! When will Congress put a check on Google’s market reach and power? The data they are collecting and other projects, will put Privacy advocates on noticee

  • Derek Freudenthal commented on Nov 24 2008

    I would rather Congress stay out of Googles way. They are doing nothing illegal, they are just making information accessible to everyone. Why would we want to hinder technology and information?

    I see this as only a win win situation; kudos to Google Trends finding such a valuable gem in their information database.