Google's New App Tracks Public Movement To Monitor 'Social Distancing' Compliance

Brittany M. Hughes | April 3, 2020
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As Laredo, Texas threatens a $1,000 fine for anyone who doesn’t wear a mask in public and Vermont bans retailers from selling “non-essential” items like clothing and toys, Google is helping Big Brother enforce social distancing mandates with a new tech tool that monitors community movements to help the Powers That Be know if you and your neighbors are following the new rules.

Per ABC:

Google is launching a tool that will publicly track people's movements amid the coronavirus pandemic, allowing health officials to check whether their communities are abiding by social-distancing measures.

The California-based tech giant says it will publish and regularly update the "community mobility reports," which are broken down by location and display the change in visits to public places such as grocery stores and parks. The tool, announced by the company late Thursday, uses "aggregated, anonymized sets of data" that Google has collected on users, including through Google Maps.

The new tool uses location tracking methods in their Google products to track and map the general public’s movements and displays the information, supposedly collected anonymously, on a website that compiles the information into several "mobility reports" for areas like grocery stores and public spaces. In its online descriptor, Google explains that "the Community Mobility Reports were developed to be helpful while adhering to our stringent privacy protocols and protecting people’s privacy. No personally identifiable information, such as an individual’s location, contacts or movement, will be made available at any point."

“The idea instead is to outline percentages, which highlight potential surges in attendance. For example, its first reports states that San Francisco County has seen a 72% drop in retail and recreation, a 55% decline in parks’ population, and a 21% increase in residential population between Feb. 16 and March 29,” CNBC reports.

But on top of showing where people are moving out and about during the pandemic, the information could also be useful to local government officials and law enforcement to “target specific regions with further messaging about the importance of staying six feet apart, or close parks where residents are routinely flouting the rules.”



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