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Out and about? Google releases global virus lockdown data

Oakland: Google has published reports for 131 countries showing whether visits to shops, parks and workplaces dropped in March, when many governments issued stay-at-home orders to rein the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Google’s analysis of location data from billions of users’ phones is the largest public dataset available to help health authorities assess if people are abiding with shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world.

Data from Google users' phones is being collected to help authorities understand if people are obeying stay-at-home orders.

Data from Google users’ phones is being collected to help authorities understand if people are obeying stay-at-home orders.Credit: E+

Its reports show charts that compare visits in recent weeks to subway, train and bus stations, grocery stores and other broad categories of places with a five-week period earlier this year. For some countries, Google charts regional data, such as at the county-level within the United States.

Facebook, which like Google has billions of users, has shared location data with non-governmental researchers that are producing similar reports for authorities in several countries.

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