Google Publishes Location Data to Show How Coronavirus Lockdowns Are Working
Google on Thursday published reports for 131 countries showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders to rein within the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The plan is to issue a daily updates with the figures referring back to activity from two or three days prior. The company has promised that individuals’ privacy are going to be preserved. The readings are supported location data gathered via the Google Maps app or one among the firm’s other mobile services.
Google’s analysis of location data from billions of users’ phones is that the largest public dataset available to assist health authorities assess if people are abiding with shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world.
Its reports show charts that compare traffic from Feb. 16 to March 29 at subway, train and bus stations, grocery stores and other broad categories of places with a five-week period earlier this year.
Following types of places are compared to a period earlier in the year before lockdowns were introduced:
Retail and Recreation
Grocery and Pharmacy
Parks, Beaches and Plazas
Bus, Subway and Train Stations
Office Buildings and other places of Work
Trends are going to be display “a decimal point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of labor , not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post, signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps, and therefore the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.
“We hope these reports will help support decisions about the way to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said. “This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips which will shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”
Like the detection of traffic jams or the measurement of traffic on Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymized” data from users who have activated their location history. No “personally identifiable information,” such as a person’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available, the post said.
Google said it hoped the information could be used by Officials & health authorities and others to help manage the outbreak.
Google’s launch comes each day after EU justice chief Vera Jourova called on the tech giants to share more data with scientists trying to combat the virus. She also criticized them for not doing more to crack down on false information.
“We still see that the main platforms still monetize and incentivize disinformation and harmful content about the pandemic by hosting online ads,” said the commissioner. “This should be stopped. The financial disincentives from clickbait disinformation and profiteering scams also should be stopped.”