Feeds

GooFlu searches for sickness

Google tells you when to get sick

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.