Google tracking flu outbreaks in 16 more countries

Oct 08, 2009
The home page of Internet giant Google's website. Google on Thursday expanded a flu-tracking tool to include 16 more countries, analyzing local patterns in search queries to determine the spread of the influenza.

Google on Thursday expanded a flu-tracking tool to include 16 more countries, analyzing local patterns in search queries to determine the spread of the influenza.

Japan, Russia, and much of Europe are now included at Google Flu Trends. The California Internet powerhouse has also made information available online at google.org/flutrends/ available in 37 languages.

"Flu is a global threat, affecting millions worldwide each year, so we're pleased to make this tool available in more regions and languages," Google engineers Matt Mohebbi and Dan Vanderkam said in a blog post.

Google had already expanded Flu Trends to include Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand since launching the free influenza-tracking tool with US data in November of last year.

Flu Trends counts the number of flu-related queries on the Google Internet and provides estimates on influenza outbreaks in respective regions.

Last season, flu spread estimates made using Google search terms closely mirrored data released by US health officials weeks later, according to Mohebbi and Vanderkam.

"By tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries, we are able to estimate the level of flu, in near real-time," the engineers said.

"While some traditional flu surveillance systems may take days or weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be counted immediately."

Google reports a strong correlation between searches for flu-related topics and how many people actually have symptoms of influenza.

"We filter out terms that may be popular because people hear about them in the news," Mohebbi and Vanderkam said.

For example, Flu Trends analysis filters out terms such as "swine " that people are likely to use when seeking news stories instead of because they are exhibiting symptoms of .

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google search gets semantic

Mar 24, 2009

Google on Tuesday modified its globally popular Internet search service to understand relationships between words, as the company bids to better grasp what Web users are looking for.

Recommended for you

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

2 hours ago

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

7 hours ago

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

8 hours ago

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

21 hours ago

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

Music site SoundCloud to start paying artists

Aug 21, 2014

SoundCloud said Thursday that it will start paying artists and record companies whose music is played on the popular streaming site, a move that will bring it in line with competitors such as YouTube and Spotify.

User comments : 0