Google has published an early version of their COVID-19 Community Mobility Report showing mobility and population differences in locations like workstations, public transport stations, parks, pharmacies, and residential areas, among others.
Google has made several efforts to ensure privacy in this information. The data itself is aggregated and anonymized, they are not displaying movement data, and are showing percentage differences, not differences within total amounts. They are also using differential privacy, a method that “adds artificial noise to…datasets enabling high quality results without identifying any individual person.”
As the world tries to balance the need to obtain more and more data, discover the efficacy (and enforce) social distancing methods, there’s also a balance to be had between privacy and public health. Do we temporarily give up rights during this time of crisis? These kinds of questions can be impossible to answer but Google seems to be making a concerted effort to provide useful and meaningful data in the fight against coronavirus without giving up their users’ privacy.
For more information and to see the report itself, click here.