Apple today has released new mobility trends data created from Apple Maps requests, which it says can possibly “provide insights to health authorities looking for ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
“This mobility data may provide helpful insights to local governments and health authorities and may also be used as a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit in their communities,” explains Apple.
Apple Maps mobility data is not linked to a user’s Apple ID and Apple says it does not keep records of where users have been. The new website details mobile trends for 63 countries and regions, along with trends for major cities.
For Canada, the trends report lists major cities such as Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, for example. Not a lot of Canadian cities are listed. Apple says availability is based on minimum thresholds for directions requests made daily (I bet more people are using Google Maps).
Looking at the chart for Canada above, it shows Apple Maps directions requests have declined 59%, driving requests are down 65% and transit requests down 85% from the mid-March baseline, as most people are now staying home due to COVID-19.
Data is compiled from “counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions,” says Apple, with data sets “then compared to reflect a change in volume of people driving, walking or taking public transit around the world.”
In regards to privacy, Apple says data collected within Apple Maps is linked to rotating, random identifiers “that continually reset,” meaning the company has no profile of your movements and searches. “This enables Maps to provide a great experience, while protecting user privacy,” the company explains.
Apple also recently teamed up with Google to fight COVID-19, as an upcoming opt-in contact tracing tool leveraging Bluetooth is set to launch for iPhone and Android, with an API made available for health authorities.