Consider it an early warning system on the spread of flu. Google Flu Trends, a new site from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, uses searches on flu with the search giant to track the incidences and spread of flu across the US.
The model was developed by looking at billions of Google searches from 2003 onward, which were then compared against data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), according to the BBC. In a blog on the site, Google wrote:
"Our team found that certain aggregated search queries tend to be very common during flu season each year."
"We compared these aggregated queries against data provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we found that there’s a very close relationship between the frequency of these search queries and the number of people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms each week."
It’s believed that this method could prove to be two weeks ahead of CDC figures. Google will pass its data to the CDC.