Tag Archive for Google.org

Google Tracks the Flu

Nov. 11 — Google has a new “tool” called Google Flu Trends (www.google.org/flutrends).

By tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries, our engineers have discovered that we can accurately estimate the level of flu in each state, in near real time. Today Google.org launched a tool, Flu Trends, that makes this information accessible to all.

While traditional flu tracking systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release data, Google search queries can be automatically counted immediately. During the last flu season, we shared our preliminary results with the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the Influenza Division at CDC, and together we saw that our search-based flu estimates had a consistently strong correlation with real CDC flu data.

Flu affects millions, and kills hundreds of thousands every year. Early detection is critical to helping health officials respond more quickly and save lives. Flu Trends can help serve as an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza.

Google Flu Trends is an effort put forth by Google’s philanthropic division, google.org. Google.org was announced by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004. Other projects being run by Google.org and their partners include:

  • Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C): An R&D group with Google engineering seeking ways to generate electricity from renewable energy sources. It started by focusing on solar, wind, and geothermal systems. They also explore other potential breakthrough technologies.
  • RechargeIT: A program to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electrical vehicles.
  • Predict and Prevent: This initiative will use information and technology to empower communities to predict and prevent emerging threats before they become local, regional, or global crises. The initial focus is on emerging infectious diseases, climate change, and deforestation. On Nov. 4, 2008, they reported on a deadly arenavirus in South Africa which had been contracted by a safari booking agent, Cecelia van Deventer, in Zambia. Cecelia and three other people who had come in contact with her died within two weeks time. The disease is currently described as contained by several disease prevention organizations. Read more here.
  • Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services: Google.org is working with public, private, and civil society partners initially to address education, health, and water and sanitation services in East Africa and India.
  • Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs): Google.org is supporting the development of small and medium sized business enterprises in developing countries such as India and East Africa by focusing on lowering transaction costs, deepening capital markets to increase liquidity, and catalyzing capital for investment. While many large businesses have access to capital and loans, micro-loans have been hard to come by for smaller businesses. In countries such as the US, most jobs are provided by small business.



Video: Intro to Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Video: Predict and Prevent

Video: Inform and Empower

Video: Fuel the Growth of SMEs





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