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Apple Releases Mobility Data During COVID-19

Apple has publicly released the mobility data gathered from Apple Maps in an attempt to provide useful information to local governments and health authorities as they work to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement made today, Apple said that the data could serve as “a foundation for new public policies by showing the change in volume of people driving, walk or taking public transit”.

The information displayed in the graphs in this article represent all the of requests that were made to Apple Maps for directions, not where users actually went.

Evidently, Australia’s use of Apple Maps has dropped considerably since the government brought in sweeping COVID-19 restrictions in mid-March. Across the country transit fell by 78%, walking was down 54%, and driving declined by 47%.

Australia’s Mobility Trends. Source: Apple

In terms of Australian cities, Apple has only released the data for Sydney and Melbourne. The figures for these two cities were in line with those of the whole country, though Melbourne’s mobility trends had declined more than Sydney’s across all transport metrics.

Apple emphasised that the mobility data was not associated with a user’s Apple ID and that the company did not keep a history of where users have been. Apple said: “Data collected by Maps, like search terms, navigation routing, and traffic information, is associated with random, rotating identifies that continually reset, so Apple doesn’t have a profile of your movements and searches.

Apple’s disclosure of mobility trends follows its announcement that it is working with Google on Bluetooth COVID-19 tracing capabilities, which will be used by governments and health agencies across the globe.

Google made its mobility data trends available a week ago.

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