Google Tracks Flu Outbreaks… What Can’t It Do?
It seems that Google can be used to track more than just your calendar of upcoming events or your stock portfolio. Google Flu Trends is a new service offered by Google that can analyze flu related searches to pinpoint when and where a flu outbreak might be taking place. Amazing.
SAN FRANCISCO — There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. Turns out a lot of ailing Americans enter phrases like “flu symptoms” into Google and other search engines before they call their doctors.
That simple act, multiplied across millions of keyboards in homes around the country, has given rise to a new early warning system for fast-spreading flu outbreaks, called Google Flu Trends.
Tests of the new Web tool from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic unit, suggest that it may be able to detect regional outbreaks of the flu a week to 10 days before they are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.