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Advances in nowcasting influenza-like illness rates using search query logs

Lampos, V; Miller, AC; Crossan, S; Stefansen, C; (2015) Advances in nowcasting influenza-like illness rates using search query logs. Scientific Reports , 5 (12760) 10.1038/srep12760. Green open access

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Abstract

User-generated content can assist epidemiological surveillance in the early detection and prevalence estimation of infectious diseases, such as influenza. Google Flu Trends embodies the first public platform for transforming search queries to indications about the current state of flu in various places all over the world. However, the original model significantly mispredicted influenza-like illness rates in the US during the 2012–13 flu season. In this work, we build on the previous modeling attempt, proposing substantial improvements. Firstly, we investigate the performance of a widely used linear regularized regression solver, known as the Elastic Net. Then, we expand on this model by incorporating the queries selected by the Elastic Net into a nonlinear regression framework, based on a composite Gaussian Process. Finally, we augment the query-only predictions with an autoregressive model, injecting prior knowledge about the disease. We assess predictive performance using five consecutive flu seasons spanning from 2008 to 2013 and qualitatively explain certain shortcomings of the previous approach. Our results indicate that a nonlinear query modeling approach delivers the lowest cumulative nowcasting error, and also suggest that query information significantly improves autoregressive inferences, obtaining state-of-the-art performance.

Type: Article
Title: Advances in nowcasting influenza-like illness rates using search query logs
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/srep12760
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep12760
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Applied mathematics, Computer science, Influenza virus, Epidemiology
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470223
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