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Accurate data quality can help track the flu spread

Paul Newman Archive

Big data has been touted as a solution to many business problems. It can improve any number of critical operations, frommore accurate risk analysis by insurance companies to smarter product placement in grocery stores. However, the analytics strategy can also be used to predict the spread of illnesses more accurately. This has been demonstrated with the recent flu outbreak, as new mobile applications allow individuals to report symptoms and identify areas that are viral hotspots.

For this information to be accurate and complete, developers may need to install tools that verify data quality. Individuals may be supplying contact and health information on the go with a smartphone, making the data prone to errors caused by typos. "Fat fingers" is a common issue that hampers the quality of customer-provided data because individuals often make accidental keystrokes that make email addresses invalid or taint demographics information.

Googlerecently identified key search phrases that indicate when/where flu outbreaks are occurring, which can be extrapolated into information about how many cases there are in countries, regions and cities around the world. Individuals can then use this insight to make more informed health decisions.

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