You know what they say? It ain’t over till it’s over. That line goes through for last year’s most dreaded outbreak that spread on a worldwide scale – the H1N1. It’s a good thing that the outbreak was short-lived. The bad news is, it might not be over yet. A second strain might attack us anytime soon. This is what during the 1957 strain of influenza that hit the United States.
So, aside from prevention what could possibly be the best way to cushion the effect of another flu outbreak? Help people to understand the spread of flu. And that’s what Google is trying to do via its city level flu estimates of Â 121 cities in the United States.
Google Flu Trends, tracks the popularity of Google search queries relating to flu or influenza and then estimates the level of flu in near real-time in specific places. Google updates this daily and even provides early detection warning of any flu activity. Although experimental by nature pending validation from official data, the Google Flu Trends estimates were derived from U.S. national estimates, so there is still some degree of validity.
Google Flu Trends is a very useful tool and illustrates again how web tools can be used for the common good of mankind. Hopefully, the second strain of influenza that might happen soon is not as bad as the first strain. Better yet, let’s just hope that the second strain does not happen at all.