It stands to reason that people who are “starting to come down with something” often take the opportunity to search for information on what ails them, even before they discuss their symptoms with a healthcare professional. Who gets more of those searches than anyone? Google, of course. [ReadWriteWeb]
The New York Times writes in an article called: “Google Uses Searches to Track Flu’s Spread“:
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [New York Times]
Interesting is the fact that trends can be observed a lot earlier than by traditional institutions. Google’s users search for symptoms on internet and through these searches Google generates reports and can inform health institutions to react on these trends.
By now Google Flu Trends is just available in the United States but I am looking forward on using these service in Austria too.