The U.S. has become part of those who use mobile phone locations to track how COVID-19 is spreading. A Wall Street Journal report says federal (via the CDC), state and local governments have been receiving location data from mobile ads to help in their COVID-19 future battle plan.
The anonymized data received from the tracking will help officials to understand where people are still gathering in significant numbers as such risk spreading the disease and also tell how well they’re obeying stay-at-home instructions and how the virus has impacted retail.
The aim is to create a portal with location data for up to 500 American cities, one tipster said. The CDC is understood to be getting data through a COVID-19 Mobility Data Network project coordinated by experts at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and other schools.
This will also be helpful for authorities in dare need of where to take action next, such as discouraging people from holding events and visiting the beach and parks, even finding businesses that aren’t complying with shelter-in-place orders.
“While the data shouldn’t identify anyone, there are concerns it could still be abused. The rush to defend against COVID-19 may have unintended consequences if the data is mishandled, especially if it sticks around once the pandemic is over,” analysts say.