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Data Analytics: Google Flu Trends

Many news outlets have reported that this year’s flu season has hit early, is unusually strong and will result in the worst flu season in a decade. I recently discovered Google Flu Trends, which is a project based on Google Trends. Since Google performs 4.7 billion searches per day, they are sitting on a mountain of search data. That data can be investigated using Google Trends to determine what people are searching for.
Google Flu Trends has modeled their approach to compare to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and to give some insight as to the location and intensity of the flu spread. They accomplished this by determining which search terms were a strong indicator of flu infection and determining where people are searching for those terms. If you’re curious, here’s a more in-depth explanation for how Flu Trends works. Google’s data agrees that this year’s flu season has been much worse than previous years:

Google Flu Trends

Because of the intensity of this flu season, Google co-founder Larry Page has, in an act of charity and good publicity, arranged for free flu vaccinations for children in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Statistic Brain
Google Flu Trends
Mercury News

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