Since the rise of the Novel Coronavirus, a substantial part of the world was forced to go on lockdown and maintain strict social distancing. However, the questions remain: Did people do enough? Did they actually stay inside their homes during the lockdown period? If not, where did they go the most? Well, if it was during the pandemic of 1918, we might not be able to answer these important questions. But thanks to the technological advancements of the 21st century, scientists and researchers can get hold of relevant data to answer the questions. And Google has stepped up to provide this crucial data.

Google’s Android platform and its services have become kind of essentials in our daily lives. While people use these services for making their lives easier, Google uses these services as a massive pot of data. Now, the Mountain View-based tech giant has released a massive pool of “Community Mobility Reports” of hundreds of countries that suggests how these countries reacted to the lockdowns.

Google released this set of aggregated and anonymized insights from Google Maps to help public health officials make critical decisions to combat COVID-19. These reports contain movement data of users from most of the countries where the lockdown protocol was/is active. The company took a bulk of this data and put them in categories of locations. These categories include:

  1. Retail and recreation,
  2. Groceries and pharmacies,
  3. Parks (National parks, local gardens, and beaches),
  4. Transit stations,
  5. Workplaces,
  6. Residential.

After assigning the data in the above categories of locations, the company compared these with their “baseline days”. This was to show how visitors to categorized places change after lockdowns in place.

Now, a baseline day signifies a “normal value” for a day of the week. In this case, Google took the median value from the time period of January 3 to February 6 as the “baseline days” as no major events happened during this time.

According to Google, these data could help researchers, scientists, epidemiologists, and health officials in a crucial way. By analyzing the reports, they can come up with newer and better strategies to fight the pandemic. And we know that officials are already working on a new format of lockdown fearing a relapse of the disease in many countries.

So, if you are a research specialist or someone who can think can make use of the reports, you should grab the set of data soon. These data will not be available forever as the company states that “these reports will be available for a limited time, so long as public health officials find them useful in their work to stop the spread of COVID-19”.