Google is releasing your anonymized location data to help health officials with coronavirus containment

Google is releasing your anonymized location data to help health officials with coronavirus containment ...
Credit: Google

With coronavirus cases crossing the million markcountries are taking strict actions to clamp down on people moving about, so as to help prevent the spread of the disease. To help health officials to understand how people are moving around, Google is releasing anonymized data from Maps for 131 countries to the public, researchers, and governments.

These reports, called the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, will contain trends of movement in terms of visiting places such as groceries, pharmacies, and workplaces. The company says it’ll contain data from the past several weeks up to until the last 48 to 72 hours.

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Google said these reports might help public health officials understand people’s habits of making essential trips outside their homes, for things like buying groceries and medicines — and recommend ideal operational hours for businesses accordingly:

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. For example, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.

Google’s mobility report showing the country’s movement trends during the lockdown

The search giant said that data is collected from folks who have turned on their location history in Google Maps. It added that data collected for these trends is anonymized and “no personally identifiable information will be made available at any point.”

In a separate effort, Facebook is also providing location data to researchers in the US to measure the effectiveness of social distancing efforts.

This announcement comes at a time where governments across the world are trying to leverage location data to notify people about close contact with COVID-19 positive patients. Yesterday, India officially released its coronavirus tracker that leverages the phone’s GPS and Bluetooth data.

In the US, mobile ad companies are also sharing data with health authorities and state governmentsTaiwan, Israel, and Singapore are other examples of governments relying on location data to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

You can check out data for your region here.

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