Apple announced on Tuesday that it would be providing data on mobility trends across cities and countries as part of its efforts to support the fight against the novel coronavirus.
According to the company, it will be making “aggregated navigation data” available to the public starting immediately, This, Apple hopes, will provide valuable insight for governments and health authorities, and could help in shaping public policies in the near future.
While protecting your privacy, we are sharing aggregated mobility data from Apple Maps to help public health authorities learn how people travel in their communities and to provide valuable insights to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay safe and healthy! https://t.co/Nok77HKIXN
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 14, 2020
The program will use Apple Maps to collect data on public movement. Data is collected from the number of requests made on Apple Maps for direction, and is then compared to reflect changes in walking and driving habits, as well as the use of public transportation.
Apple, as well as CEO, Tim Cook, has reiterated that user privacy will remain the core of Apple Maps and the data sharing program, and no private information pertaining to Apple Users will be compromised.
Apple has made earlier contributions to the global effort, ranging from supplying 20 million+ face masks to front line workers, to developing an app with the help of Stanford University for first responders to help screen their symptoms. Further, the company lunched a joint effort with Google to utilize Bluetooth technology in order to accelerate contact tracing.
Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy. We’re working with @sundarpichai & @Google to help health officials harness Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency & consent. https://t.co/94XlbmaGZV
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 10, 2020
Apple has also revamped its apps and user interface to prioritize information regarding the virus, including updated Siri audio briefs, and essential service prioritization on Apple Maps.