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Entries in avian flu (2)


Privacy Concerns Raised With Google Flu Tracking

Last Week we did a post (Google Announces Flu Tracking Capabilities, May Predict Outbreaks Before CDC) on tracking flu trends after Google publicly announced their capabilities of tracking the flu, and possibly warning of outbreaks weeks ahead of what was once possible using other current modeling methods.

A few days later privacy concerns were raised in the news, though these concerns are not really warranted since personal data is not relayed to anyone.

Basically Google uses specific search terms in geographical locations and uses the search terms to populate a map based on how many other searches for related terms are occurring in that area. Though there is slightly more complicated than this, this is how it works in a nutshell.

Google, in now way makes the data of those performing the actual search available and this technology is much needed, especially with the possibility of an outbreak of avian flu occurring.

The CDC is on board and assisting with the use of this tracking technology and if it has the potential to possibly stop an outbreak from spreading unchecked then I am all for it.

Here is the privacy statement from Google on this technology:

Protecting User Privacy

At Google, we are keenly aware of the trust our users place in us, and of our responsibility to protect their privacy. Google Flu Trends can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur each week. We rely on millions of search queries issued to Google over time, and the patterns we observe in the data are only meaningful across large populations of Google search users. You can learn more about how this data is used and how Google protects users' privacy at our Privacy Center.


Pandemic Planning For Your Business

Planning for a pandemic especially in todays global business environment is essential for a business to survive. For it is not "IF" the next pandemic will occur it is "WHEN."

In the last century there were three separate pandemics that occurred the last of which was known as the Hong Kong Flu (H3N2) in 1968, another in 1957 known as Asian Flu (H2N2) and the Spanish Flu which occurred in 1918.

The Spanish Flu resulted in 50 to 100 million plus deaths worldwide and 550,000 - 675,000 deaths in the United States. The virus in the United States caused quarantines of entire Cities, the required wearing of masks while out in public, a shortage of caskets and mass burials, the closure of schools and businesses and widespread fear and panic.

What does all of this mean to you and your business?

It is time to prepare now and create a contingency plan so that your business and your employees can sustain the effects of the next pandemic.

Planing for a pandemic is different from regular business continuity planning in that business continuity plans are generally based on two assumptions:

  1. That you will be back to "business as usual" within a specified time frame usually 30 days or less.
  2. That you can go from the "affected" site to the "unaffected" site and resume business operations.
These assumptions do not apply when it comes to pandemic planning.

Some of the things that you can expect from a pandemic however will be a high absenteeism rate from staff, vendors, and services including health care, police and fire etc. (some place the estimates of absenteeism around 40%, though I personally expect it to be higher).

The pandemic may last as long as eighteen months and come in three separate waves, and critical functions that are carried out by contractors, consultants, and vendors cannot be guaranteed. The closure of many public and private gathering places such as schools, churches, malls etc. You can also expect that the infrastructure of society will be highly stressed, but will most likely remain functional though to a lesser degree than what we may expect.

Those businesses that are planning on having large amounts of employees telecommute may also face further interruptions as the impact on communications networks will stretch the capabilities of the networks to the breaking point and sustained outages will occur.

How do you overcome these problems?

  • Plan now, plan early and be flexible in your planning.
  • Inform and educate employees and management on what to expect, and how you plan on carrying out operations during a pandemic.
  • Consider partnering with other businesses, and speak to your local health department.
  • Space employees further apart.
  • Allow for virtual meetings
  • Minimize face to face contact
  • Educate on cleanliness, hand washing, covering your cough, and cleaning the workspace.
  • Provide hand sanitizers.
  • Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves.
  • Consider stockpiling pharmacological products.
If you would like more information or help in creating your pandemic plan please visit

Dynamic Network Technologies

For further reading please refer to the following sites.