images The Data Deluge

images According to IDC, the amount of data in the world is doubling every two years.1

Anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the nation's population contract the flu each year, a cause of roughly 36,000 deaths annually.2 Those numbers were sufficient to earn the common flu a place among the top 10 killers in the United States in 2010—beating suicide, homicide, and other lethal forces in the process.3 As with any epidemic, early detection and warning are critical to contain contagion. Enter the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and responsible, in part, for notifying the public of potential epidemics. They do so by monitoring data collected and compiled from thousands of health care providers, laboratories, and other sources. But, in 2008, there arrived another alternative to the CDC—one that relied not on medical records from esteemed sources but the seemingly banal keyboard searches from millions of everyday consumers. That year, Google debuted its Google Flu Trends service, designed to mine and analyze the millions of search terms entered through its engine in an attempt to predict the threat of an epidemic. Even more boldly, the company suggested that it may have the ability to detect regional outbreaks ...

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