Google to Publish Location Data in Order to Allow Governments to Evaluate the Effectiveness of the COVID-19 Measures
Google will publish data on the location of its users around the world today to allow governments to evaluate the effectiveness of the social distance measures introduced to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the company said.
Consumer movement data in 131 countries will be published on a special website and "outline geographic trends", according to a post on one of the company's blogs.
This will show an "increase or decrease in visit rate" in places such as parks, shops, homes and places of work, not an "absolute number of visits," according to a post signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, Head of Health and Chief Health Officer of the Karen de Salvo company.
Here is a part of the statement released by Google:
"As global communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing emphasis on public health strategies, like social distancing measures, to slow the rate of transmission. In Google Maps, we use aggregated, anonymized data showing how busy certain types of places are—helping identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded. We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.
Starting today we’re publishing an early release of our COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports to provide insights into what has changed in response to work from home, shelter in place, and other policies aimed at flattening the curve of this pandemic. These reports have been developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and policies.
The reports use aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time by geography, across different high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. We’ll show trends over several weeks, with the most recent information representing 48-to-72 hours prior. While we display a percentage point increase or decrease in visits, we do not share the absolute number of visits. To protect people’s privacy, no personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement, is made available at any point.
We will release these reports globally, initially covering 131 countries and regions. Given the urgent need for this information, where possible we will also provide insights at the regional level. In the coming weeks, we will work to add additional countries and regions to ensure these reports remain helpful to public health officials across the globe looking to protect people from the spread of COVID-19."
More information about the privacy protection and how the system will work can be found here.
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