As of today, Google releases “COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports” on the travel movements of a large portion of its users. These reports have been compiled with the aim of providing public health officials around the world with additional information on how well people adhere to government regulations to stay at home as much as possible.
Criticasters may stand up right away because Google may harm people’s privacy, but this is not the case here. Precisely to protect the privacy of people, personally identifiable information, such as the location, contacts or movements of individuals, is never made available.
COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports
These COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, which per country can be requested by everyone, provide insight into what has changed as a result of the message “Go out on the street as little as possible, stay at home”. The reports are compiled from aggregated, anonymized data to map motion trends over time by location. Think of places such as shops, pharmacies, parks, stations (bus and train), but also workplaces. homes and playgrounds.
The statistics mainly show the trends over several weeks, with the most recent information being 48 to 72 hours old. It is also visible whether there is an increase or decrease in the number of visits. However, the absolute number of visits is not shared.
The reports are published worldwide for initially 131 countries. There is also a need for data at an even more regional level۔ Google will continue to add additional countries and regions in the coming weeks to ensure that these reports remain useful to public health officials who want to protect people from further spreading COVID-19۔
It is not surprising that Google comes with this data. Google, Facebook, telecom companies and probably smartphone manufacturers also have a lot of location-related data from their users. Sharing this is still officially prohibited in the Netherlands. Incidentally, Google only has data from people who share their location history. Nevertheless, it is estimated that the available data that is now being offered can certainly help bodies such as RIVM to gain more insights.
These COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports will only be available for a limited time. It is essential for Google that public health workers find the reports useful in their work to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.