Google’s philanthropic unit (philanthropic unit?) has taken their ever so popular (well, popular on Terry – see here, here, here, and here) Google Trends tool and applied it for good. According to Google (article), days and weeks before your average American reluctantly heads to the doctor’s office about their nagging, phlemmy cough, they will search certain key words like “flu symptoms” on Google. This little quirk in human nature (i.e. apparently, our propensity for self diagnosis) allowed Google to predict flu outbreaks well before the CDC could, simply because the CDC had to wait for for medical professionals to report back to them after seeing their patients.
Unfortunately, Google Flu is only available in the US.