Google releases location data of persons to help fight against COVID-19
Google has released the data it has already collected about people’s movements during the coronavirus pandemic.
The company published a series of “Community Mobility Reports” to show the types of places people are visiting across 131 countries and regions.
The first report was published on Friday.
Google said in a blog post it hopes tracking movement trends over time and by geography could help shape and inform governments’ and public health officials’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reports, which contain data from two to three days earlier, intend to spot trends in how people are behaving and responding to social distancing.
Broken down by country and then by region, the reports will show if people are headed to retail and grocery stores, pharmacies, parks, workplaces and more. It’ll also show how busy these places were before the pandemic.
The company said the findings are “created with aggregated, anonymized sets of data from users who have turned on the location history setting, which is off by default” in Google’s services.
It added that it would not release information that could be used to identify its users, such as individual location or contacts.
“In addition to other resources public health officials might have, we hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” Google said in a blog post.
“This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”
The news comes as much of the world’s population is living under restrictions and lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 64,000 people globally and sickened more than one million, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.