Apple has launched a new ‘Covid-19 Mobility Tool’ that uses data from Apple Maps to show how closely people are adhering to social distancing when they are out and about.
In a statement, Apple said that the tool is able to count the amount of requests for directions in its web mapping service and offer data related to the behaviour of the general public in graph form for different regions.
For New York City, for example, the tool shows a steep drop-off in driving (-69%), walking (-80%) and transit (-89%) since the beginning of March.
While the information is useful for the general public, it is primarily designed for governments and healthcare professionals, who will be able to see whether people are following the stringent guidelines central to lockdowns across Europe and the US.
Apple allayed security concerns by confirming that the data is not tied to a person’s Apple ID, so no third party will be able to see what a certain individual is doing on any given day.
The information, part of Apple’s recent drive to help with the outbreak of the coronavirus, which included the production of face shields for health workers, will be updated daily.
In a statement, Apple said that different data sets are compared to come up with the changes in volume for cities around the world, so the information won’t just be limited to the US.
It added: “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.”
Tech giant Google has also been using the trends feature in its Maps app to highlight the effectiveness of social distancing.
Google is tracking different locations, including grocery stores and parks, to provide a more complete picture of the lockdown.
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