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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Google’s Flu Trends – Track flu activity in the US

November 12, 2008

My brother Peter just called me. “Hey, I’ve got a hot topic for your blog.” So, this post is for him.

Google, and more specifically Google.org, has setup an equally neat and useful system for tracking search trends regarding influenza. Apparently search trends are enough of an indicator to track actual flu activity. In other words, Google’s Flu Trends tool can now tell you how active these influenza viruses are in your area “up to two weeks faster than traditional systems”.

That seems an incredibly tall order but I believe them.

This tool sort of reminds me of two other systems that, while they too are incredibly ambitious, have made a large impact on the general human population. The National Weather Service’s storm warning systems and The Amber Alert. Both of these government-backed systems are very different but both have had incredible successes to help save lives and return missing or abducted children to their parents.

If Google is able to raise flu awareness in the US population by even a small percentile, it’d be a huge win for this tool. I wonder what other “search trend tools” could be built to help protect and serve the community.  And, even more importantly, how they can effect those that live inside and outside of the United States.

Source: Google Flu Trends.

Thanks Peter.

If you’d like to suggest a topic, please do!