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Google will publish user location data to aid in the fight against Covid-19

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PHOTO: threatpost.com

Today in Paris, Google has announced that it will start publishing location data from its users located in 131 countries, starting today. This will be done to allow the governments to indicate the performance of social distancing to help in the combat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reports of users’ movement will be recorded on a special website and will ‘chart movement trends over time by geography’. Trends will be displayed as ‘a percentage point increase or decrease in visits’ to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work.

Leader of Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo says…

“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”

Similar to the measurement of traffic on Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymised” data from users who have activated their location history. No “personally identifiable information,” such as a person’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available. To ensure this the reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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