Google has recently published reports on location data of its users around the world, highlighting lockdown in order to urge governments to impose effective social distancing measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Google shared the reports for 131 countries showing whether lockdown has been put in place or not and whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March. The report will be made available on a special website segregated by geographies.
This analysis by Google of its users’ phone location data is the largest public dataset available. This dataset will be made available in order to help health authorities assess if people are abiding the lockdown imposition put in place by the government of the countries, across the world.
The reports are going to show charts comparing the visits in recent weeks to crowded places like market, bus station, train station, subways, grocery stores etc. For some countries, this report by Google will also show the regional data, such as for the US, where the county-level data is essential.
In a similar effort, Facebook has also shared location data with non-governmental researchers that are producing similar reports for authorities in several countries. However, the company ashen published its findings like Google.
Explaining further, Jen Fitzpatrick, the senior vice president, Google Maps, and Google’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvoTrends stated in a blog post, and the reports will showcase, “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” of crowded areas and locations and not “the absolute number of visits.”
The reports were made available in order to “help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated the blog. “This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”
They further stated it is going to be like the detection of traffic jams or the measurement of traffic on Google Maps; the new reports will use collected data from users who have activated their location history — that’s necessary.
This initiative is necessary as countries all over the world have urged their citizens to stay home and apply social distancing. In fact, countries like China, Singapore, as well as Israel have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens’ movements in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million people and killed over 50,000 worldwide.e the pandemic.