TORONTO — Google will start releasing movement tracking reports in a bid to help public health officials determine how successful physical distancing measures have been in the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The international tech giant says it will compile aggregated and anonymized data to chart movement trends at retail and recreation spaces, groceries, pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential areas.
The frequent reports won’t identify individual mobile devices, but will track fluctuations in the number of visits to each kind of space so politicians and public health leaders can assess whether work-from-home and physical distancing orders are working.
Google says the reports could help shape recommendations on business hours, inform delivery service offerings or indicate the need for more buses or trains, which would help people to stay further apart from one another.
Google will make the reports available in 131 countries and will offer both provincial and national breakdowns in Canada.
To maintain privacy, Google says it will only base the reports on users who have opted in to sharing their location history.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 3, 2020.
The Canadian Press