Thursday, January 3, 2013 | 9:47 AM
Labels: Search Trends
Achy, feverish, coughing? You’re not alone.
Google’s Flu Trends suggests that Canadians are experiencing one of the worst flu seasons in recent years, showing a 250% increase in flu activity compared to last year.
Health Canada’s FluWatch, reported that cases of influenza surged in December. And, looking at our search trends, January is shaping up to be even more miserable! Google Flu Trend analysis, based on aggregated search data, show flu activity is intensifying across Canada, with Quebec experiencing the highest volume of flu-related searches.
While some traditional flu surveillance systems may take days or weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be counted immediately. As a result, Google Flu Trends can be updated daily and may provide early detection of flu activity.
About Google Flu Trends
In 2007, a small team of engineers began to explore ways of accurately modeling real-world phenomena using patterns in search queries. We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries are added together. We compared our query counts with traditional flu surveillance systems and found that many search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in different countries and regions around the world. Our results have been published in the journal Nature.
Flu Trends tracks and analyzes terms to provide estimates of flu activity in near real-time for 29 countries based on an analysis of large groups of certain search queries. Our estimates can be viewed on the Google Flu Trends website.
Posted by Aaron Brindle, Google Canada