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Google Will Save the World

Nearly two years ago, I blogged about my fear of global pandemic and how I thought Google might be the thing that saves us by providing an early warning system. Since that time, has instituted a system that provides real-time measurement of flu queries. (By the way, Google flu trends shows that this was not a bad year at all for the flu, and the worst seems to be behind us already this flu season.)
We now have the first good example of Google saving the world. O.K., well not really. Some researchers have published a paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which shows that, if someone had happened to be looking, Google might have given us early warning on a Listeriosis outbreak in Canada that ultimately killed 40 people.
Of course, it is a million times easier to go and study data after the fact as opposed to identifying a trend as it happens (case in point: the financial crisis). Still, when the next pandemic comes around, forget about the emergency room; Google is your best hope for survival.
(Hat tip: Hunter Walk)