The global toll of confirmed COVID-19 cases now exceeds one million. Social distancing and maintaining cleanliness are unanimously considered as our best assets to fight the pandemic for now.
To ensure social distancing, governments around the world have restricted the movement of people by imposing strict restrictions and curfews. In February, we saw how the epidemic disease of the day had changed the flow of people in Wuhan. Now Google has released data on a total of 131 countries detailing the same.
Developed primarily for public health officials, these COVID-19 community mobility reports provide insight into how social distancing and quarantine have affected people’s movement and activities. Using aggregated and anonymized data to track movement patterns over time in various locations, including grocery stores, pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential areas. The data describes trends over several weeks with information as recent as 48 to 72 hours.
Data and subsequent information was collected from users who enabled location history and the tracking setting. For privacy reasons, these reports use what Google calls “differential privacy,” a technique that achieves quality results without identifying individuals by adding additional noise to the data.
Google hopes that these reports will not only be useful to public health officials, but will also help guide decisions on how to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the published data cover 131 countries cumulatively. In the coming weeks, the company plans to expand coverage to other countries and also present regional data.