Google provides insight on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed movement in countries

The global toll of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now over one million. Social distancing and keeping oneself clean are unanimously considered to be our best shots at fighting the pandemic for now.

To ensure social distancing, governments across the world have limited the movement of people by enforcing strict lockdowns and curfews. Back in February, we saw how the then epidemic disease changed the movement of people in Wuhan. Now, Google has released data on a total of 131 countries detailing the same.

Developed primarily for public health officials, these COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports provide insights on how social distancing and quarantining has affected the movement and activities of people. Using aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time in a variety of places, including grocery stores, pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential areas. The data depicts trends over several weeks with information as recent as 48 to 72 hours old.

The data and subsequent insights were amassed from users who have turned on the Location History and tracking setting. For privacy concerns, these reports use what Google calls 'differential privacy', a technique which accrues quality results without identifying individual people by adding additional noise to the data.

Google hopes that not only will these reports be useful for public health officials but they will also help guide decisions on how to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the data released covers 131 countries cumulatively. In the coming weeks, the firm plans on expanding coverage to other countries and presenting regional data as well.

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