Home Google Releases Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico

Google Releases Experimental Flu Trends for Mexico

Google just launched an experimental version of Flu Trends that focuses only on the current flu outbreak in Mexico. Google Flu Trends, which was launched last November, tracks and maps flu-related search queries to predict how many people in a given region actually have the flu. Google stresses that Flu Trends for Mexico is only an experimental product, and that it tries to distinguish between topical searches about the flu and searches by users who may actual experience flu symptoms. Given the current interest in the swine flu, a lot of users are obviously looking for general information about it, which could easily skew Google’s algorithms.

We already know that Google Flu Trends is indeed a decent indicator for tracking the flu, so it will be interesting to see if Google’s data also works for this current outbreak in Mexico. In the U.S. Google was able to validate its estimates using data from the CDC about actual flu trends and according to some estimates, Flu Trends registers these trends up to two weeks faster than the conventional reports published by the CDC.

For the current epidemic in Mexico, though, Google obviously hasn’t had time to validate its data against official data from Mexican authorities, but given the current interest in the topic, Google decided to go ahead and release this as an experimental product.

It would be interesting to see if Facebook could do something similar with Facebook Lexicon, though for now, Facebook only allows users to use this tool to perform relatively general queries.

Update: looks like Facebook actually posted some data about the swine flu today.

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