This Tuesday, search giant Google released an experimental tool that tracks the intensity and movement of the influenza virus across the United States by monitoring the number of times that people search the Web using terms related to the disease.
The tool, known as Google Flu Trends, makes use of the fact that, before they go to the doctor's office, many people will search for information about what ails them. Using aggregate data on the number of searches for terms such as "flu" and "flu symptoms," software engineers from Google and researchers from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found a strong link between these searches and reports from doctors of flu outbreaks a week to 10 days later.
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that's clever :)