Apple makes user location data from Apple Maps available to help COVID-19 relief efforts

Apple is now sharing aggregated mobility data from Apple Maps to help public health officials better understand the changes in the way people move in their communities, the company announced today. The data is accessible via an online tool, and Apple makes the data set available for download in CSV format. The tool is similar to those offered by Google and Facebook which show mobility trends using location data from smartphones.

Apple’s new website presents mobility trends for “major cities and 63 countries or regions,” according to the company. “Information is generated by counting the number of requests for directions to Apple Maps,” Apple said in its press release. “The datasets are then compared to reflect a change in the volume of people driving, walking or using public transit around the world.”

Here’s what one of the trend graphs in the tool looks like:

Image: Apple

Apple says it protects user privacy in Maps by not associating mobility data with a user’s Apple ID and by not keeping a history of a user’s location.

The new website joins other Apple efforts to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including partnering with Google to create a contract tracking system, create a COVID-19 screening tool, and design and ship face shields to medical workers. The company claims to have purchased and donated “well over 20 million” masks to date.


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