We know governments of the world are wanting to use as much power at their disposal to track, and hopefully stem the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus -- but how far is too far? We last heard the talks were happening to use mobile data to track users' location, but it seems this is now in full effect.
Google is now using Google Maps location data from people who have previously agreed to share their history, to see who is staying and working at home. In Google's new COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, the search giant is using anonymized data from people in 131 countries, in order to see their movement trends.
Google adds that "No personally identifiable information will be made available at any point". Because we haven't heard that before.
In the new Community Mobility Reports, Google says that the aim of it is to provide public health officials an insight into what has changed in "response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19. The reports chart movement trends over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential".
Google Geo SVP Jen Fitzpatrick explains: "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".
You can check out the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports here.
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