Google Flu Trends is no longer good at predicting the flu, scientists find
The Guardian - 03/27/2014
Science researchers have discovered a problem with Google’s Flu Trends system: it’s no longer any good at predicting trends in flu cases.
According to research carried out by a team at Northeastern University and Harvard University, Google’s Flu Trends (GFT) prediction system has overestimated the number of influenza cases in the US for 100 of the past 108 weeks – and in February 2013 forecast twice as many cases as actually occurred.
A better prediction model of the number of cases for the forthcoming week could be more accurately generated from the number of cases recorded by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the preceding week, the team found.
The discovery has led them to warn of “big data hubris” in which organisations or companies give too much weight to analyses which are inherently flawed – but whose flaws are not easily revealed except through experience.