How to Use Google Flu Trends
Keeping an eye on flu outbreaks is possible in your own home when you use Google Flu Trends. Google uses aggregated search data from particular search terms to identify what is happening with flu trends around the world and maps them for you to check out. This can be a good way to plan ahead for flu shots or even for preparing for a flu pandemic.
Go to Google Flu Trends.It's at: . You will see a large map appear, like the one here:
Have a look at the world as a whole to see what's happening in different countries, perhaps even including your own (at the moment there is data for over 20 countries).Hover your mouse pointer over different countries to see the level of flu activity estimated according to what people are searching for. You can see that the intensity of flu is shown by a change in colors. The color scale denoting the levels of flu activity is as follows:
- Dark red = intense flu activity
- Red = high flu activity
- Orange = moderate flu activity
- Light orange verging on green = low flu activity
- Green = minimal flu activity.
Check the details for your own country or for any country of interest.Find the drop-down box in the left hand margin of the page that says "Select Country/Region". Choose your country and wait for the statistics to appear. You should be able to see a graph that will show you the national trends plotted according to the months in the current year. You can also check out previous years by clicking on the "Past Years" tab above the graph.
Try out some of the other features provided with Google Flu Trends.These are located under the world map. As well as a link to downloadable flu activity data, other features include:
- Animated flu trends for Google Earth
- Compare flu trends across regions
- If you're a public health official with ILI data available for one of the experimental flu trend countries (countries not validated against official data so far), you can help Google to make its historical analysis more accurate. Google provides a contact point.
- Be aware that this feature tracks online activity. It doesn't necessarily mean that there is a high level of flu in an area; be sure to check this information against other reliable sources such as the US Center for Disease Control updates, or equivalent trusted government or official source of health information in your country.
Video: THE HUMAN FACE OF BIG DATA | Google Flu | PBS
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