Infectious Diseases

Multi-source mobility data important for public health during disasters

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Leveraging mobility data from multiple sources can provide valuable insights for public health decision-making during major disasters and crises, according to a study.

Continued collaboration between technology companies and health authorities to share mobility data is needed, as it can inform effective measures to safeguard public health during natural disasters and future pandemics.

Researchers compared mobility data collected by Apple, Google, and Meta during the COVID-19 pandemic and a major winter storm in Texas in 2021, focusing on 58 countries common to all 3 databases.

To ensure the integrity of their findings, the researchers utilized the winter storm that struck Texas in 2021 as a benchmark to assess the reliability of the mobility data from the three companies.

There was a convergence in mobility trends observed across different companies during significant disasters, such as the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 winter storm in Texas. Specifically, the researchers found strong positive correlations in the mobility data collected from the 3 tech companies during the initial year of the pandemic.

Furthermore, the analysis of mobility data during the winter storm in Texas demonstrated a similar convergence of trends.

The researchers also discovered that periods of stay-at-home orders were reflected in the data, with record-low mobility and record-high stay-at-home figures.

Sganzerla Martinez G, Kelvin DJ. Convergence in Mobility Data Sets From Apple, Google, and Meta. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2023 Jun 22;9:e44286. doi: 10.2196/44286. PMID: 37347516.