Google Says To Start Reporting People’s Movements Amid COVID-19 Self-Isolation Guidelines

Nationals of 131 countries will now be able to see how the dynamic of people’s movements in their community has changed after the COVID-19 restrictions on movements in regular reports using aggregated anonymized data from Google’s services, the company said on Friday

“Starting today we’re publishing an early release of our COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports to provide insights into what has changed in response to work from home, shelter in place, and other policies aimed at flattening the curve of this pandemic,” the company said on its website.

According to the statement, the reports will be using aggregated data to outline movement trends in initially 131 countries – their number to be increased soon and several regions to potentially add up as well – in places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. To protect users’ privacy, the company pledged not to share any personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement.

Google cited public health officials as reaching out to say that “the same type of aggregated, anonymized insights [that Google uses] in products such as Google Maps could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.”

The company said it will record not the actual number of visits to such places, but rather their percentage point increase or decrease over the previous several weeks, with the latest timestamp being 48 to 72 hours prior to the release.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11. To date, close to 100 countries have introduced quarantines and other restrictions on people’s movements in a bid to curb the spread of the infection. As of Friday, the global toll of COVID-19 has exceeded one million cases with over 53,000 fatalities, according to statistics compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

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