Apart from the collaboration with Google for developing a contact tracing app, Apple Inc. has recently launched an online tool that shows how people are moving around their communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Apple, the tool showcases a chart indicating changes in the number of requests made over time, allowing for percentage-based comparisons between populations. It uses anonymous data from the company’s Maps app and highlights the volume of people moving around in their communities.
According to a statement released by Apple, the tool covers major cities in 63 countries or regions.
The release stated, “This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies.”
The default view for the chart showcases results for the United States, UK, Germany, and Italy, however, if one needs to narrow down, can use a search box to search for data by country, region, or city. Alongside the tool picks up activities like driving, walking, and transit categories for the chart.
The company has stressed that this information isn’t tied to users’ identities. It further clarified that the Maps app doesn’t keep a record of people’s data. The data are generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. Those data sets are then compared to reflect any changes in activity, starting from Jan. 13.
In a recent tweet, Tim Cook confirmed the news by stating — “While protecting your privacy, we are sharing aggregated mobility data from Apple Maps to help public health authorities learn how people travel in their communities and to provide valuable insights to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy!”
According to the release, the online tool shows an 89% decline in users seeking public transit directions in New York City since early March and a 46% decline in driving directions in Hong Kong since the end of January. The tool doesn’t appear to have information about activity in mainland China.