Google Flu Trends overestimated the numbers of flu cases in the United States during the flu seasons of 2011-12 and 2012-13 by over 50 percent, according to a new study.
Also, this overestimation by Google’s data-aggregating tool is actually a part of a trend, and it illustrates, according to Ryan Kennedy, University of Houston political science professor, “where ‘big data’ analysis can go wrong.”
Google Flu Trend (GTF) was created in 2008 as a method to provide a way to monitor flu cases around the globe. It was based on the assumption that there was a direct relationship between Google searches for flu-related terms and actual cases of influenza, and it used search algorithms to help predict actual amounts of flu cases each week during a year.
Although Ryan Kennedy calls Google Flu Trends “an amazing piece of engineering,” if the data it provides is analyzed incorrectly, or “improper polices” are put into place by other private big data collecting companies, vast inaccuracies can result. the other private big data-collecting companies, like Google, are “constantly changing their service in accordance with their business model.”