November 12, 2008 By News Report
By tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries, Google has discovered that they 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, the company shared its preliminary results with the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and together the organizations saw that Google's search-based flu estimates had a consistently strong correlation with real CDC flu data.
Flu affects millions, and kills hundreds of thousands every year, said Google in a release. 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.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.