COVID-19

Apple launches site to aid COVID-19 efforts

Aggregated Navigation Data from Apple Maps Provides Mobility Trends for Cities and Countries or Regions

Apple are to release data that could help inform public health authorities on whether people are driving less during lockdown orders to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities.

Maps does not associate mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, and Apple does not keep a history of where a user has been. Using aggregated data collected from Apple Maps, the new website indicates mobility trends for major cities and 63 countries or regions.

The information is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. The data sets are then compared to reflect a change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world.

Data availability in a particular city, country, or region is subject to a number of factors, including minimum thresholds for direction requests made per day.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.

The information, available on a public website here , will show changes for major cities and 63 countries or regions.

Apple recently launched a joint effort with Google to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

Apple’s data is more limited than what Google has made available to public health officials.

Google released data on more than 131 countries almost a fortnight ago, comparing trips in recent weeks to recreational venues, train and bus stations, grocery stores and workplaces with a five-week period earlier this year.

For several countries, Google offers county-level data, which is helpful in countries such as the United States where lockdown orders are issued by county officials.

The Apple data, by contrast, shows only data for some cities, regions and countries and does not show results for entire U.S. states, including those without lockdown orders such as North and South Dakota.

The Apple data also does not capture trips where the user has not asked for directions from the Maps.

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