Feeds

GooFlu searches for sickness

Google tells you when to get sick

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Google's philanthropic tentacle, google.org, has found a strong correlation between official data on influenza from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the number of people searching for flu information on google.com.

Google Trends collects the 100 most popular searches on Google.com. Many of these entries reflect last night's TV or enduring internet interests like escort girls or obscure anime cartoons. By stripping out such distractions some interesting information remains - at the time of writing flu symptoms were the most popular US search. At number two however is "insomnia cookies". The service is used by marketeers to judge the impact of campaigns on web searchers.

The surprising thing is that Google's information can be as much as two weeks ahead of CDC data. Researchers looked at certain flu-related search terms for the last five years and compared them to flu surveillance information from CDC. They found CDC data, collected from doctors and hospitals, followed Google Trends by about two weeks. Almost every increase in numbers of flu cases was preceded by an increase in flu searches.

Over the 2007-2008 flu season Google shared this information with the CDC and was "able to accurately estimate current flu levels one to two weeks faster than published CDC reports". The service is so far only available in the US but allows you to search by state.

CDC data from doctors and hospitals take a while to collect and analyse while Google's search terms can be crunched much more quickly.

The research has now been accepted in principle for publication in Nature. Google hopes the data will allow doctors and health planners to respond more quickly to epidemics or even pandemics.

More on flu trends from Google.org. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.