Google to track flu outbreaks with search data

Google announced today the launch of new flu tracking websites for New Zealand and Australia.

By monitoring flu-related search queries, the company has found they are able to approximate the actual spread the disease in close to real-time.

To create the New Zealand site, Google’s team used historical data from the WHO National Influenza Centre at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), as well as their own anonymous search data to build a flu model, and found the two were closely correlated.

News coverage:

TVNZ: Google rolls out NZ flu trends algorithm
National Business Review: Google tool will help NZ track swine flu, other outbreaks
AFP: Google tool tracks flu in Australia, New Zealand
Sydney Morning Herald: Google releases Flu Trends tracker for Australia