Thursday, November 13, 2008

Move awaaaay from the flu...

Yeah, that's right - Google is now providing estimates of flu activity based on analysis and evaluation of search data by location. If you take a look at the image above (which is currently linked to the image on Google's "learn more" page of their FluTrends site), you can see how the Google search analysis compares to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; why it's not "CDCP" I don't know... maybe too close to "CCCP" from back in the days of the USSR?) analysis of the data provided by doctors. The thing: Google's data was available one or two weeks earlier than the CDC data.

That's pretty cool. Using search engine technology for public good - the CDC reports are used to help hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors' offices prepare for upcoming demand as the flu spreads in various parts of the country. And earlier warnings are better, of course. In fact, you could even plan to take vacations away from moderate flu areas into minimal flu areas if you have that opportunity and ability. Or, if you're a traveling doctor (aka "quack"), you could plan your travels into moderate- to high-flu areas in order to peddle your amazing cure-alls. Or, if you're like me, you could stock up on Mt. Dew (the title of that post doesn't seem like it, but read the whole post to find out) when the flu starts to spread into your area.

Anyway, pretty cool. A useful use (that appears slightly redundant it seems) of search engine technology beyond, well, searching for information (such as "avoid to play song dead turkey" - where my blog used to have the 7th entry on that search page, but apparently no longer does; still don't know who would search that, or why).

On a different topic, let me know if you can see the extrasolar planet in the image at this article. I can't.

1 comment:

Dean Lusk said...

I think I saw the extrasolar planet at the bottom right of the image. Is that not it? (I didn't read the article...)

I think that Google technology is so amazingly fast that it went back in time, enabling Google to collect and sort the flu data before the DCD[P]. Just my thoughts.