Skip to main content

Google is Saving Lives by Tracking Web Searches

As the world may see it, Google may take over the worth with their growth of innovation and technology. This is only an exaggeration of course, but more accurately, one can say Google is the leader of the web. The article discusses how Google uses their own algorithm similar to PageRank to predict outbreaks of influenza in particular regions. Their algorithm basically measures the quality of a webpage and the quantity of clicks as a measurement to determine rank and popularity. Due to the number of web searches about flu symptoms, Google is able prevent possible major outbreaks with this information one to two weeks in advance, which can save many of the lives that die from influenza every year. This strategy is only the beginning and it is thought that this method will expand into tracking other illnesses and diseases.

While Google uses a form of PageRank, they are more specifically using a method called Link-based Ranking. In this case a page such as Web MD is more likely to show up as the most popular link when searching for flu symptoms because it is the most relevant in this case. It wouldn’t make sense for a blog page about an individual’s experience with flu symptoms to pop up as the link with the highest rank because not only does Google check for quantity, the quality of the site matters too. This is relevant to the topic of web search that we’ve covered in class because when a search is as general and broad as “flu symptoms” or even just “flu” it makes sense that a network will also pull up a broad search result. If one was looking specifically for an article or blog about the flu they would have to specify that in their search. The point is even when you provide specific keywords or you tell Google exactly what you are looking for, there are far too many results to give a searcher exactly what they are looking for. This phenomenon is called the “Problem of Abundance.” So the fact that many individuals are all clicking the same link about flu symptoms makes their data and predictions valid.


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

October 2019