Govt Cites Google Mobility Report in Shaping Pandemic Restrictions

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Markus Wisnu Murti

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  • Google Maps and Google Street View apps. ANTARA/Arindra Meodia

    Google Maps and Google Street View apps. ANTARA/Arindra Meodia

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Global tech giant Google has released a community mobility report during the COVID-19 pandemic that can be accessed freely on its website for a limited period. This report serves to provide insights on the changes brought about by the policies aimed at combating the pandemic. 

    Its use to create pandemic restriction policies was mentioned by Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who is also the coordinator of Indonesia’s Emergency PPKM or emergency public activity restrictions across Java and Bali, who cited Facebook Mobility, Google Traffic, services from NASA satellites and NOAA as means that help the government monitor the mobility of its citizens. .

    Google Indonesia communication manager Feliciana Wienathan explained on Friday that the tech company initially based its data on inputs from healthcare workers that could help the processs of decision making in battling COVID-19

    “What we use are combined anonymous analysis from our products, one of which is Google Maps,” said Wienathan on July 16. 

    She explained that the reports chart movement trended over time by geography, across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential areas. “This is an early release and the report will routinely be updated,” she said. 

    Wienathan assured that Google’s community mobility report was developed under strict protocols and protected the privacy of its users. “Personal information such as locations, contacts, or individual mobility will not be available in any way,” she assured. 

    Responding to concerns about potential privacy breaches, Wienathan explained the analysis in the report was made using datasets that were designed to be anonymous from each user that activated their location history in the settings, and that users could deactivate this setting freely. 

    She added that Google used the same world-class anonymization technology employed in its products every day to secure the privacy and security of users' activity data. This includes the use of differential privacy, which adds a system intrusion signal or artificial noise to Google datasets.

    “This enables us to create analyses without identifying each user,” she said.

    Read: Google to Invest $75 Mn in Coronavirus-hit Small Businesses

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