US Officials Use Mobile Ad Location Data to Study How COVID-19 Spreads

An anonymous reader quotes the Wall Street Journal: Government
officials across the U.S. are using location data from millions of
cellphones in a bid to better understand the movements of Americans
during the coronavirus pandemic and how they may be affecting the
spread of the disease… The data comes from the mobile advertising
industry rather than cellphone carriers. The aim is to create a
portal for federal, state and local officials that contains
geolocation data in what could be as many as 500 cities across the
U.S., one of the people said, to help plan the epidemic response…
It shows which retail establishments, parks and other public spaces
are still drawing crowds that could risk accelerating the
transmission of the virus, according to people familiar with the
matter… The data can also reveal general levels of compliance
with stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, according to experts
inside and outside government, and help measure the pandemic’s
economic impact by revealing the drop-off in retail customers at
stores, decreases in automobile miles driven and other economic
metrics. The CDC has started to get analyses based on location data
through through an ad hoc coalition of tech companies and data
providers — all working in conjunction with the White House and
others in government, people said. The CDC and the White House
didn’t respond to requests for comment. It’s the cellphone carriers
turning over pandemic-fighting data in Germany, Austria, Spain,
Belgium, the U.K., according to the article, while Israel mapped
infections using its intelligence agencies’ antiterrorism
phone-tracking. But so far in the U.S., “the data being used has
largely been drawn from the advertising industry. “The mobile
marketing industry has billions of geographic data points on
hundreds of millions of U.S. cell mobile devices…”

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Source: *FS – All – Science News 2 Net
US Officials Use Mobile Ad Location Data to Study How COVID-19 Spreads