As global communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasing emphasis on public health strategies, like social distancing measures, to slow the rate of transmission.

Google have recently announced that in Google Maps, they are using aggregated, anonymised data showing how busy certain types of places are—helping identify when a local business tends to be the most crowded confirming that public health officials have said that this same type of aggregated, anonymised data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.

Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports will 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.

They comment that “these reports have been developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and policies”. Google add that “to protect people’s privacy, no personally identifiable information, like an individual’s location, contacts or movement, is made available at any point”.

The reports use aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time by geography, across different high-level categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. We’ll show trends over several weeks, with the most recent information representing 48-to-72 hours prior.

These reports will be released globally, initially covering 131 countries and regions. Given the urgent need for this information, where possible they will also provide insights at the regional level. In the coming weeks, they “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”.

To see how your community is moving around differently due to COVID-19, click here. 

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