Google has published reports showing people’s movements over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
These ‘Community Mobility Reports’ collect data from billions of Google user’s phones and track the places where people are going to across categories such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential.
Google has revealed reports for 131 countries and territories, including Hong Kong, Singapore, US, and the UK, to name a few.
The company said it is using “aggregated, anonymized data” gathered through Google Maps to show how busy certain types of places are in order to help identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded as countries around the world are encouraging social distancing and introducing policies aimed at flattening the curve of the pandemic.
“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,” Google said in a blog post.
To protect people’s privacy, Google said no personally identifiable information, like someone’s location, contacts or movement, is made available “at any point”.
Google said the insights are created from users who have turned on the “Location History” setting on their devices.
“These reports have been developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and policies,” said the company in a blog post.
The reports reveal how busy the following types of places are compared to a period earlier in the year before social distancing measures were introduced:
- retail and recreation
- grocery and pharmacy
- national parks, beaches and marinas
- bus, subway and train stations
- work places
The company said these reports will be available for a limited time “so long as public health officials find them useful in their work to stop the spread of Covid-19.”