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Google uses Web searches to track flu's spread

will work with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

     
7:01 am on Nov 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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[mercurynews.com...]

There is a new common symptom of the flu, in addition to the usual aches, coughs, fevers and sore throats. It turns out that 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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is kind of scary/kind of cool at the same time.

They say: "Google Flu Trends avoids privacy pitfalls by relying only on aggregated data that cannot be traced to individual searchers."

Hopefully they will not pull an AOL :P

3:02 pm on Nov 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This could be good for all sorts of infectious diseases, all over the world. I wonder why they've limited it to America?
3:43 pm on Nov 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Except for this week when everyone is testing the search of "flu symptons"
9:52 pm on Nov 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Except for this week when everyone is testing the search of "flu symptons" "

LOL...... i just typed it in before reading your post.

I would tend to vote on the "SCARY" side.

Next up:

"Google uses Web searches to track husbands and wives searches"
....then sells data to spouses.....

11:00 pm on Nov 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That is so slick.

I wouldn't say scary on this as it has utility.

I would say scary on other things that google could report on like people entering queries like "mortgage default", "bankrupcy", "is my wife cheating on me", "herpes symptoms", etc...

too much?

1:12 am on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This data has been around for, duh, how many years google has been around? So why now? Sounds like marketing to me. Now that the genie is out of the bottle you can bet every other search engine will do the same... and scare the pants off anyone dumb enough to listen. (ie, the media).
2:13 am on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This data has been around for, duh, how many years google has been around? So why now?

Why not now, instead of not at all? Just because no Google brainiac developed an application and told his co-workers "Hey, listen to this!" until now doesn't mean it shouldn't be implemented.

9:24 am on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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So essentially it would be evil to check all google datacenters for "flu symptoms" right now eh? (cackles gleefully)

Oh wait, it's aggregated data, so you have to get your neighbors in on the fun.
I guess you could post the link on your local Craigslist to be truly evil.

Seriously folks, wash your hands often and if you are sick, don't torture your co-workers by going in anyway and sneezing in their general area.

[edited by: amznVibe at 9:26 am (utc) on Nov. 13, 2008]

9:30 am on Nov 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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>I wonder why they've limited it to America?

I'd guess it's to do with the specificity of their geolocation data

5:54 pm on Nov 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have been using www.google.org/plaguetrends/ for quite some time...
 

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