We all know by now how bad the strain of influenza that hit the world last year was. And if the CDC warning is to come true, we might be experiencing a second spike of flu activity anytime this year. The CDC is basing its warning of course to the similar event that happened in 1957. So, to prepare for this event or any other influnza strike, Google has released flu estimates of 121 cities in the U.S.
The city level flu estimates is being carried out by Google in consultation with public health officials. With this initiative, Google is hoping to help people understand the spread of flu.
Google’s flu estimates were based from the tracking of popularity of several Google search queries. Through this search queries, Google is able to estimate flu levels in a real-time fashion. The trends is updated on a daily basis and could also detect early signs of flu activity. Although not yet validated by U.S. authorities, the flu estimates are somehow reliable if not more useful than traditional flu surveillance systems which usually takes days or weeks to be collected and processed. In addition, Google’s estimates were created in the same way as the U.S. national estimates were made.
So, hopefully, this tool would help cushion the impact of future flu strike.