COVID-19 Mobility Data Network

We are a network of infectious disease epidemiologists at universities around the world working with technology companies to use aggregated mobility data to support the COVID-19 response. Our goal is to provide daily updates to decision-makers at the state and local levels on how well social distancing interventions are working, using anonymized, aggregated data sets from mobile devices, along with analytic support for interpretation.

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Visualization Tools

This site provides a platform for sharing of data that can safely be made public.

Camber Systems Social Distancing Reporter

Camber Systems built this dashboard in collaboration with epidemiologists within the Mobility Data Network to provide a more accurate and actionable understanding of the effectiveness of social distancing and other policy interventions aimed at reducing or slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Facebook Data for Good Mobility Dashboard

Movement range data helps us understand how communities are responding to COVID-19 physical distancing interventions in states and counties across the country. This anonymized, aggregated mobility data offers insights into how often people have been moving outside their home area or staying put since February 29, when interventions were first implemented.

Technical Resources

The Network provides openly shared resources for researchers interested in using these data to conduct work relevant for controlling the COVID-19 outbreak and the health impacts on populations around the world.

Code Repositories

Network members share code repositories, analytic tools and best practices via GitHub repositories and online community meeting spaces.

Mobility Data Metrics

This table includes a description of commonly used metrics to measure mobility, and will be useful to policy makers, media, and communities.

Technical Guidance Document

We maintain a document that outlines

  • considerations for public health use and privacy
  • aggregation methods and sources of uncertainty
  • methods for analysis of aggregated data and their purpose

Comparison Analysis across Data Streams

This document provides information about how different sources of data compare to each other. In some cases, the metrics correlate well, but not all. We will be systematically making such comparisons across data as we progress, and providing information about comparability and uncertainty on our site.

Future Direction

As more data become available, Network researchers expect to assist the development of guidelines on how these metrics can inform the relaxation of restrictions, serological surveillance and community-based testing.

Daily Debriefs

Network researchers provide daily one-to-one debriefs to local departments of health and response agencies, so scientists may directly assist in interpreting the data and analysis.

The response to COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the extent of human mobility data available to technology companies, data aggregators and governments around the world. It is critical to proceed with caution - the misinterpretation of such data can result in misdirected policies; the misuse of such data can result in harm to individuals and groups. Network members adhere to the data use policy published on our website; only work with aggregated anonymized data analyzed at a temporal or spatial resolution that minimizes harm; and do not promote the use of data at a resolution that cannot be scientifically justified for the interventions proposed.

About the Network

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, technology companies and mobile phone operators are coming forward to provide important, epidemiologically-relevant data from mobile devices, that could help to inform policies that reduce the spread of the virus. For example, aggregated location data from mobile phones can be used to provide important population-level information about how people are moving around. Given that social distancing interventions — including travel restrictions, working from home, closing schools, universities, and non-essential retail and restaurant venues, and canceling social gatherings — are important interventions available to slow transmission in the early stage of the epidemic, monitoring how well public messaging is working will be key to its successful implementation. Measuring the impact of social distancing interventions on movement patterns, and subsequently on the spread of COVID-19, will therefore be an essential prerequisite to generate evidence for when we relax restrictions to resume our lives and livelihoods while managing the risk of resurgence.

Our position on the use of these data for combatting the Covid-19 pandemic is articulated in this letter published in Science, on March 23rd, 2020.

Aggregated mobility data could help fight COVID-19

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic worsens, understanding the effectiveness of public messaging and large-scale social distancing interventions is critical. The research and public health response communities can and should use population mobility data collected by private companies, with appropriate legal, organizational, and computational safeguards in place. When aggregated, these data can help refine interventions by providing near real-time information about changes in patterns of human movement…

The COVID-19 Mobility Data Network

It is important to recognize that the aggregated mobility metrics now available through a surge of publicly available dashboards are just one source of information about behavioral responses to interventions, and to consider their limitations. Different data sources will produce mobility estimates that reflect the demographic and geographic coverage of the owners of devices they come from. We expect these to be biased, both across different geographies and among different demographic groups, and must therefore be interpreted in their particular social, economic and political context. The inability of communities to physically distance, for example, is most often a reflection of underlying economic realities that preclude working from home or not working at all, and warrants supportive measures that allow people to physically distance, to the extent feasible. For denser populations in the global south, physical distancing may not be an option.

Such analysis would greatly benefit from the several years of epidemiological research conducted using mobility data. The Network makes available trained scientists to serve as trusted intermediaries between the aggregated data received from technology companies and the policy makers and communities that seek to use them.

Data Use Policy

The participants in the COVID19 Mobility Data Network share a deep commitment to privacy values and data protection as well as best practice principles related to data governance and ethics. The following principles guide the Network’s effort:

  1. The use of data, including data sharing, aggregation, and analysis, for Covid19 response must speak to a clear need articulated by public health authorities, and for no other purpose.
  2. The use of data must both be in compliance with existing laws and adhere to best practice principles of data governance.
  3. Data should be aggregated to the lowest feasible resolution possible while maintaining its desired utility.
  4. The use of data must be transparent, inclusive, and safeguarded against unintended consequences.

The Network itself will not be the recipient of data. The use of data facilitated by the Network will be subject to the various approval and oversight mechanisms provided by the academic home institutions of the individual researchers participating in the Network. The Network facilitates the sharing of consolidated daily situation reports with government health officials and provides analytic support. It does not share the underlying data sets with governments, third parties, or the public at large. Participants in the Network embrace appropriate legal, organizational, and computational safeguards to minimize - and carefully manage any remaining - data privacy risks associated with this research effort in general and the use of aggregated data in particular.

Background Readings

Contact

You may contact the team with the email address below.

We are not able to respond to every inquiry, however, if you are an infectious disease epidemiologist or modeler, who has a relationship with local/state public health and would be interested in being a part of our Network, please contact us.

Please note all researchers are required to review and sign our Network Data Use Policy, as well as signing Data Use Agreements with technology companies.

Media inquiries may also be submitted via email.