recommended reading

Google Flu Trends Wildly Overestimated This Year's Flu Outbreak

Vials of flu vaccine are displayed at Philly Flu Shots in Philadelphia.

Vials of flu vaccine are displayed at Philly Flu Shots in Philadelphia. // Matt Rourke/AP

Scientific hindsight shows that Google Flu Trends far overstated this year's flu season, raising questions about the accuracy of using a search engine, which Google and the media hyped as an efficient public health tool, to accurately monitor the flu. 

Nature's Declan Butler reported today on the huge discrepancy between Google Flu Trend's estimated peak flu levels and data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this winter. Google bases their numbers on flu-related searches (the basic idea being that more people Googling terms like "flu symptoms" equals more people catching viruses). The CDC, on the other hand, uses traditional epidemiological surveillance methods. Past results have shown Google to have a pretty good track record on mirroring CDC flu charts. But this time, Google's algorithms doubled the CDC's (accurate) figues — overshooting the mark in some regions by an even higher margin. 

There's no doubt that this year's flu season was severe. Outbreaks hit early and hard by any measure. CDC officials declared an influenza epidemic in early January, Boston's mayor called a public health emergency around the same time, and Chicago hospitals struggled to keep up with emergency room visits. Still, Google's alarming snapshot of over 10 percent of the U.S. population experiencing flu-like illness was nowhere near the actual peak of 6 percent incidence. 

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.