TECH. Apple makes mobility data available to aid COVID-19 efforts
April 14, 2020 | Press Release
Apple today released a mobility data trends tool from Apple Maps to support the impactful work happening around the globe to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 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. To learn more about COVID-19 mobility trends, visit apple.com/covid19/mobility.
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.
Additional COVID-19 Efforts
Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19 and has sourced and donated well over 20 million face masks for medical professionals on the front lines around the world. Apple has also brought together teams across the company and its suppliers to design and produce face shields, and is shipping 1 million face masks per week to the areas that need them most. For police, firefighters and paramedics, Apple helped Stanford Medicine build a new app for first responders to help screen their symptoms and, if needed, schedule a testing appointment.
Recent updates to Apple apps and services help customers find the information they need quickly and easily using Siri and Apple Maps. Siri Audio Briefs for COVID-19 help customers receive the latest news and information about the pandemic through short podcasts from trusted news providers and Siri can also provide guidance and resources from the CDC if asked, “How do I know if I have coronavirus?” In Apple Maps, grocery, food delivery and medical services are prioritized when searching nearby, and a curated collection of telehealth apps are available on the App Store. Apple is also providing content and services to parents, teachers and IT teams to help with the transition to virtual learning, including one-on-one training and numerous online resources.
To accelerate contact tracing, 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 also released a new screening tool and set of resources to help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of COVID-19, based on the latest CDC guidance. For more information visit apple.com/covid19.