TIME looks at how Google is entering the realm of tracking epidemics with their Google Flu Trends tool and how such tools have the potential to serve as early warning resources. Unlike official agency tracking that tend to rely only on hospital data, Google uses user-driven data which results in real-time information about people’s behavior even before they see a doctor about their illness:
Google Flu Trends claims it can pick up signs of health troubles up to two weeks ahead of official health reports, giving communities precious time to protect themselves and hopefully contain the spread of an infectious disease like influenza.
The article also looks at Veratect which produces a disease trend tracking program.
Veratect’s tracking method includes analyzing Internet data (blogs and other sources), maintaining on-the-ground contact with health officials, text-mining news reports and government resources for keywords related to infectious-disease outbreaks and using satellite images of weather patterns to detect and predict the progress of global events like disease and civil unrest.
Read more: Is Google Any Help in Tracking an Epidemic? – TIME