Have yinz already seen Google Flu? It’s a project by google.org, in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s been getting healthy press coverage for the last two weeks or so. And, if you want to dig deeper, a draft manuscript on their approach is also available.
The headline result of this approach to tracking flu outbreaks is that it is fast: google.org can observe flu trends two weeks before the CDC. And it is accurate enough, with correlations of 0.85-0.98 between the search-result-based estimate and the gold-standard rates produced by the CDC.
I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, but first let me praise it.