One of the most intriguing revelations of the last year was the news that Google could use aggregated search data to track — and perhaps predict — outbreaks of influenza. The graph shows results for the US. CDC data come from surveying a sample population of doctors, but the results take time to collate, whereas Google’s data are nearly instantaneous. So even if the search-derived data were only a day or two ahead of the official stats they could be useful to public health authorities in some circumstances.
Now the NYT is reporting that Google has extended the service to Mexico. One reading of the data is that the outbreak has peaked there. But that might simply be a reflection of the fact that an awful lot of Mexicans don’t have internet access.
Interesting video here.