Google will report its mobility tracking against covid-19 every 48 hours

Google will report its mobility tracking against covid-19 every 48 hours

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Google will report this Wednesday, and every 48 hours, the data on population movements, in order to further refine the information it offers to fight a pandemic that has caused a level of confinement of a caliber difficult to imagine a few weeks ago.

“If they told me a month ago that this was going to happen, I would think it was crazy,” says the product manager and member of the Google Privacy team from his home in Montain View, California. Miguel Guevara (Cuernavaca, Mexico), who reveals, in a telephone interview with EFEHow do they work in your company “day and night”, literally, to look for formulas that give governments and researchers tools to tackle the covid-19.

One of Google’s initiatives involves spreading a statistical report on mobility in 131 countries, extracted from the location data that millions of users voluntarily share on their mobile phones. This is anonymous and aggregated data.

At the moment, Google has released two reports, the first April 3 and the second on day 9. The idea is to launch a third this Wednesday and, from there, update it every 48 hours. “We always do it in a way that is very respectful of user privacy,” he insists.

131 countries

Under that premise of privacy, Google works to find new products against the pandemic and does it from two different continents: Europe (Munich and Zurich) and America, USA (Silicon Valley). “When one team sleeps, the other works and vice versa. So, incessantly,” he explains.

In the short term, the US giant plans to expand this list of 131 countries and also the “granularity” of these reports, in the sense of beginning to offer data at the level of large cities, such as Madrid or New York and probably The Angels, Explain.

“How much further can you go in the dissemination of data? We do not know. We are studying it,” acknowledges this engineer, who warns: “If information is reported, for example, from a town in 100 inhabitants, the user’s privacy would also be violated. There may only be one person who goes to the park. “

Violate privacy

The goal is to offer the greatest data number possible, but always with the Privacy ahead, he insists.

The results of the reports are not immediately disseminated: there is a latency between 48 hours and 72 hours. The objective is to be able “to be sure that the information offered is correct”.

Thus, for example, in Spain, if you wanted to know the mobility data registered this Monday after the new confinement measures agreed by the Government, you would have to wait for the upgrade of the data from this Wednesday, or even the next, he says.

Millions of data

At the moment, the two mobility reports released by Google coincide in showing a decrease in mobility in the country in more than one 90% in parks and public places.

Towards the work places, mobility was reduced by 68% in Spain. The question is to know now how much this percentage will have changed since this Monday with the New measures.

Guevara does not dare to venture a figure on how much data is handled in Google. There are millions and millions of them. To get an idea of ​​the magnitude, he explains it like this: every time they are done run graphs It takes four to five hours to process the data, despite the company’s powerful computer media.


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