Google has announced that it will release the location data of users around the world from Friday. This will enable governments to determine the effectiveness of social distancing measures brought into place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a post on one of Google’s blogs, the report on the movement of users in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography”.
To locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, trends will be used to display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” but not “the absolute number of visits”. This is signed by Google Maps leader Jen Fitzpatrick and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.
The data revealed that for example, in France, the visits to restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, museums or theme parks have fallen by 88% from their normal levels. Initially local shops witnessed a jump of 40% when the confinement measures where announced but then they suffered a drop of 72%.
Office use is stronger than anticipated, as the decline is just 56%.
Google execs said, “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.”