During the COVID-19 outbreak, social distancing and self-isolation have become key strategies to slow the spread of the virus. However, the degree to which people are complying with these practices has been unclear. Through its COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports website, Google is seeking to measure compliance in various areas throughout the U.S. and the world. The data will describe trends in terms of percentages rather than absolute numbers.
Trends are divided into six categories on the website. These categories are retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential. While the information is not updated on a daily basis, it reveals trends that are just a few days old. By considering this information in conjunction with other data, state and local officials may be able to identify developing hot spots where the virus is spreading. Also, identifying non-compliant areas can help them take more targeted steps to improve social distancing, such as closing parks or increasing efforts to enforce shelter-in-place orders. As restrictions are gradually lifted, state and local governments can see the effect of specific actions and calibrate their next steps accordingly.
This website is just the most recent initiative that Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has undertaken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Previously, Alphabet worked with the federal government to create a screening and testing website through another of its subsidiaries, Verily. It also has provided COVID-19 resources and data to educate consumers and assist medical experts. With so much uncertainty swirling around the virus and the strategies for fighting it, Google and other tech companies have played a key role in helping public health authorities understand the situation more clearly.
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