Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google Flu Trends


Google, the search engine.
Gmail.
Google Maps.
Google Earth.
Google Flu Trends?!?

In a surefire sign that Google is taking over the world, Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Google empire, launched Google Flu Trends, which is supposed to act as an early warning system of flu outbreaks. Not surprisingly, it turns out that before going to the doctor, most people like to google "flu symptoms" or of the like as ways of self-diagnosis. Multiply that by millions of people, analyze the regions where the searches are coming from, and you get a predicting system that may be able to detect flu outbreaks up to 10 days before the Center for Disease Control may be able to do. The service will analyze the keyword searches as they come in, and create maps and graphs of the country to show where the flu is spreading. Well, that's the ideal theory behind it, anyways.

Um. I don't know what you all think about this idea, but I find it fascinating. Mostly cause I find search engine results fascinating. The editors of Life in Boxes keep tabs on how you find our site, and sometimes, the funniest things lead to our blog (search term: "town bordering Ridgefield, NJ"). To be able to use the data that people are entering to help predict and ultimately curb disease outbreaks? That's pretty cool. Imagine what else we can do with that kind of collective data; I feel like we're only at the beginning of major things. Ok, so I know this just all SCREAMS of violating privacy issues or whatever (idk, do you really care?), but honestly, nothing you do is private anyway. We might as well try to do some good with the technology that allows us to.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Pretty cool.

I'd put a "hmmm" flag on anyone who was really worried about privacy concerns from this though.

sang said...

I'm curious to see how accurate this will be.

Jeehyun/rita said...

I came from a Game FAQ :D