Apple has published deeply interesting mobility data that shows how people’s walking, driving and public transit use has changed across the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re travelling a lot less
The information shows huge reductions in travel taken across most countries and larger cities globally.
In London, UK, people are using public transit 89% less frequently than they were before, the data shows; while in San Francisco people transit travel has fallen 84%.
Apple has published this information to provide government and health authorities with information that may help them make informed decisions during the pandemic, the company states.
How did it get this data?
Apple says it has generated this data from Apple Maps requests.
This information is aggregated and analysed in order to provide a fairly accurate representation into how people’s habits have changed.
“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,” it says in a press release.
Is the information private?
In line with the company’s usual commitment to privacy, Apple claims this information is anonymized. It does not associate mobility data with a user’s Apple ID, and does not keep a history of where a user has been.
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,” it says.
The idea is that you as a user get the information you need while your privacy remains protected.
What else is Apple doing?
The company has also confirmed some of the many other steps it is taking and continues to take in response to the pandemic:
- It has sourced and donated over 20 million face masks for medics.
- Apple is shipping over 1 million face masks each week.
- It helped Stanford Medicine build a new symptoms checking app for first responders.
- Siri Audio Briefs for COVID-19 provide the latest news and information about the pandemic through short podcasts from trusted news providers.
- Siri can guide you through a symptoms checker.
- Apple Maps now prioritizes grocery, food delivery and medical services.
- Apple has put together a collection of telehealth apps on the App Store.
- It has also provided a heap of content and services to help adapt to remote working and virtual learning.
- The company has made available COVID-19 resources to keep people informed and help them take care of themselves.
- And has, of course, teamed-up with Google for a new form of contact tracing.
- It is also supporting an online benefit gig with Lady Gaga.
- We know the company has taken a multitude of additional steps in addition to these.
You can explore Apple’s newly published Mobility Trends tools here.
I’ve written a selection of what I hope are useful stories to help you through current events. You can read them here:
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