The United States government is in talks with Facebook, Google, and other tech companies about how location data from smartphones can be used to combat the coronavirus.
Tech companies could aggregate anonymous location data that could be used to map the spread of the coronavirus and determine whether social distancing is an effective virus mitigation strategy. The discussions, and the project, are in the early stages.
Facebook executives have said that the government is interested in understanding the patterns of people’s movements, which can be provided through Facebook data. Facebook has in the past offered this kind of information in the form of disease prevention maps for health researchers, and officials could use the data to predict hotspots and where to allocate health resources.
“We’re encouraged by American technology companies looking to leverage aggregate, anonymized data to glean key insights for COVID-19 modeling efforts,” said an official with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Government sources say they are “not building a government database” and that insights gleaned from location data could “help public health officials, researchers, and scientists improve their understanding of the spread of COVID19 and transmission of the disease.”
Multiple tech companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, met with White House officials last week, where they were asked to help the government with its response to the growing outbreak. READ MORE: