Google Flu Trends is syndromic surveillance
December 12th, 2008 reports on Trend Spotting: Even Google can’t cure the flu. This is smart mobby stuff manifested as syndromic surveillance of what crowds affected by seasonal ills or bioterrorism do as their symptoms appear, as Slate relates:

“Syndromic surveillance,” or using data that track trends in patient symptoms, has been a hot topic since the Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks. The initial thought behind the now gazillions of dollars dumped into syndromic surveillance was to use sensitive monitoring systems to identify clusters of E.R. and doctor visits by patients exhibiting worrisome symptoms, like fevers and rashes, and to create an early-warning system for bioterrorist attacks. But as researchers from the Rand Corp. point out, syndromic surveillance is not all that when it comes to detecting bioterrorism. Anthrax symptoms like fever and cough mimic the flu, making it tricky to differentiate an attack from an influenza outbreak. But what syndromic surveillance is good at is detecting trends in the flu itself. And Flu Trends, which is really a new type of syndromic surveillance, reportedly has benefits over other types of surveillance.

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