Tech companies have been updating their tools and technologies in the past year or so to aid in vaccine distribution and provide easy access to information on the topic to the general public. Today, Google has announced that it will soon be releasing new tools to further enhance this process.
First up is a COVID-19 Vaccination Search Insights tool for public health officials in the U.S. This is in response to health authorities wanting access to data about what kind of information their local communities need from them in order to hasten and simplify the vaccination process. This tool caters to this need by showing search trends across three categories: all vaccine information, searches indicating intent to get vaccinated, and those about safety and side effects. These trends will be at a county or zip code level and will be updated on a weekly basis.
Google has emphasized that user privacy will not be violated because the tool will utilize differential privacy to add noise to the data without significantly affecting its overall quality. As such, all data will be anonymized at a user level and will be aggregated in such a way that even though comparisons across various regions are possible, the number of search queries fired by an individual region is not.
Secondly, Google has collaborated with Ariadne Labs by providing it data to develop a Vaccine Equity Planner dashboard which combines data from various sources to show areas where people have difficulties in accessing vaccines. Google's COVID-19 Vaccination Access Dataset, which collects data from Maps-related APIs, is being utilized in this dashboard. Google has once again highlighted that this dataset does not contain user data. You can view the public dataset on GitHub here.
The company has indicated that although both the tools will be available in the U.S. in the English language only for now, it will decide whether to expand their reach globally after consultation and feedback from researchers and public health officials.