Can location data from smartphones help slow the coronavirus? Facebook is giving academics a chance to try

Facebook collects data from people that choose to share their location with the app, and have started sharing it with various researchers who are trying to track the spread of the novel coronavirus. They share the data anonymously, so as to avoid the privacy issues they’ve faced in the past, and researchers aggregate “the signals into a picture of flows of people” to track connectivity and movement. Beyond researchers, nonprofits are also using it to help disseminate medical resources to highly affected areas.

This is a rapid response story about a coping strategy. Due to the urgent crisis, we are relaxing the ‘evidence of effectiveness’ criterion for solutions coverage on COVID-19 to capture early stage, improvisational, and experimental responses that cope with the pandemic.

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