The technology company Google is showing the movements of people across the world that have changed drastically as their respective governments lock down cities and directed shelter in place in order to halt the proliferation of highly contagious disease COVID-19.
The famous search engine, for the purpose, has been using location data that it has collected from billions of smartphones.
Reports generated using this data, which is normally used to show how busy a certain location is on Google Maps, and which Google says does not identify individual people, are freely available on a special new website “COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports” exclusively developed for the world’s updates regarding coronavirus pandemic.
Jen Fitzpatrick, Google senior vice president and Karen DeSalvo, chief health officer for Google Health wrote in a blog post published on Friday, “We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19”.
The extracted data is currently available for 131 countries, and in many locations including the US, a user can also access data for individual counties.
On the specialised website, you can select a region and then a report automatically generated in PDF format to access information, which shows the increase or decrease in the percentage of people visiting six broad categories of places: retail and recreational spaces such as restaurants, shopping centers, and museums; grocery and pharmacy stores; parks and public beaches; transit stations; workplaces; and residences.
According to the COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports website, the change in percentage in each report is a comparison between the most up to date data, retrieved between 48 and 72 hours ago, and an average over five weeks between Jan. 3 and Feb. 6.