Google helps fed officials track sickness

logo-google“Flu Trends” uses search terms that people put into the web giant to figure out where influenza is heating up, and will notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in real time!

GOOGLE, continuing to work closely with government, claims it would keep individual user data confidential: “GOOGLE FLU TRENDS can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur each week.”

Engineers will capture keywords and phrases related to the flu, including thermometer, flu symptoms, muscle aches, chest congestion and others.

Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of influenza surveillance at CDC: “One thing we found last year when we validated this model is it tended to predict surveillance data. The data are really, really timely. They were able to tell us on a day-to-day basis the relative direction of flu activity for a given area. They were about a week ahead of us. They could be used… as early warning signal for flu activity.”

Thomas Malone, professor at M.I.T.: “I think we are just scratching the surface of what’s possible with collective intelligence.”

Eric Schmidt, GOOGLE’s chief executive vows: “From a technological perspective, it is the beginning.”

ya know it’s probably a nice idea, but really how necessary is this and what does it open the doors to in other areas of watching what you type?

I’m suggestng people start using scroogle

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