Google has announced the launch of a new tool that will help public health officials to combat Coronavirus pandemic. Known as COVID-19 COmmunity Mobility Reports, the latest tool will offer detailed information about various aspects.
The company says that the reports use aggregated, anonymised data to chart movement trends over time by geography. The brand says that just like Google Maps, which uses technology to identify when a local business tends to be most crowded, the reports provide high-level insights into what has changed.
The reports will be available globally, though its initial covers 131 countries and regions. At launch, some countries will also have state, province or regional-level insights. Google says that in the coming weeks, it will work to add additional countries and regions to ensure these reports remain helpful to public health officials across the globe looking to protect people from the spread of COVID-19.
With this, anyone will be able to go the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports website and select their country and download a PDF file to see the insights. The company says that it will display the per cent increase or decrease of movement across different places including retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. Furthermore, the reports will show a percentage increase or decrease, rather than the absolute number of visits.
The company says that it does not provide any personally identifiable information like an individual’s location, contacts or movement. The brand says that this will help public health officials to support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ For example, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings. Similarly, persistent visits to transportation hubs might indicate the need to add additional buses or trains in order to allow people who need to travel room to spread out for social distancing,” the company said in a blog post.
For privacy protection, Google says that the Community Mobility Reports uses differential privacy, which adds artificial noise to the datasets enabling results without identifying any individual person. Users have an option to turn off this setting at any time and delete their history.