Apple launches mobility data trends tool to combat COVID-19 spread

Apple has made mobility data available for 63 countries, including various major cities and regions. Using Apple Maps data for a mobility data trends tool, Apple hopes to provide assistance to local governments and health authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The tool shows real time changes in number of people at different locations which may be beneficial for concerned authorities to draft and implement new policies in the current health crisis.

Apple’s COVID-19 Mobility Trends Reports are dedicated to provide trends data categorized b y walking, driving or public transport, in the world affected by Coronavirus. The numbers are complied on the bases of the requests for directions made in Apple Maps app. Then those figures are compared to show changes in the number of people walking, driving or traveling via public transport like buses or subways. Concerned authorities or individuals can also download complete data in CSV format, which shows daily changes in direction requests by all transportation methods.

Apple Mobility Data website

As always, Apple has assured users that their privacy will not be put on stake in the aggregation process of mobility trends. User’s Apple IDs are not associated with the collection and compilation of statistics and their history of places that they had travelled to will not be saved by the company.

Apple has built privacy into the core of Maps from the beginning. Data collected by Maps, like search terms, navigation routing, and traffic information, is associated with random, rotating identifiers that continually reset, so Apple doesn’t have a profile of your movements and searches. This enables Maps to provide a great experience, while protecting user privacy.

Just a few days ago, Apple opened a registration portal for healthcare facilities and providers to submit details of their COVID-19 testing sites, so that their locations are displayed in Apple Maps app after approval. Apple has acted very responsibly since the outbreak of the coronavirus, by setting up digital screening tools, manufacturing face shields, and collaborating with Google for development of contract tracing technology. We hope and pray that all these efforts bear fruit and the world is freed of this catastrophic health crisis.

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