Home » Google’s sharing Canadians’ location data with the government, but says privacy’s assured

Google’s sharing Canadians’ location data with the government, but says privacy’s assured

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Toronto – Google to share user location data in Canada to help politicians and public health officials in their response to the pandemic COVID 19th.

The tech giant said in a blog post-Friday that it would begin releasing its report on a regular movement in the area in Canada.

Dr. Karen DeSalvo, primary healthcare workers to Google Health and Jen Fitzpatrick senior “At Google Maps, we use the aggregate, the data show how busy some kind of point-to help identify when local businesses tend to be the most crowded, anonymous” vice president for Google Geo, wrote in a blog post.

“We have heard from public health officials that this same type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.”

The report uses data to map movement trends over time in different places such as the grocery retail and leisure, and pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and housing, said Google.

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“This information could help officials understand the changes in the important journeys to establish recommendations on hours of work or inform the delivery of service offerings,” DeSalvo and Fitzpatrick wrote.

“Similarly, persistent visits to the transportation hub may indicate the need to add an additional bus or train to enable people who need space to spread out travel for social distance. In the end, understanding not only whether people are traveling, but also the trend in destination, can help officials design guidance to protect public health and the essential needs of the community. “

The report will not indicate the number of individual visits but will display the percentage increase or decrease.

“We will show a trend over several weeks, with the latest information about the most representative 48-to-72 hours in advance,” said the blog.

The California-based company said it reported the mobility of people who provide “insight into what has changed in response to work from home, shelter in place and other policies aimed at leveling the curve of this pandemic.”


In a report dated March 29, Google breaks up the country, province, and region of data showing the percentage of reduction or increase in visits to places in Canada.

Bar graph comparing human traffic from Feb.16 29th Mar, retail and leisure space, railway and bus stations, shops and workplaces on the basis of earlier this year.

Nationwide, visits to retail and leisure destination dropped 59 percent compared to the baseline, the five-week period from January 3 to 6 February

Trips to stores and pharmacies dropped 35 percent, while a visit to the park declined 16 percent.

transit stations across the nation saw a 66 percent drop in traffic and went to work fell 44 percent.

Not surprisingly, because of health advice to stay at home, Google found a 14 percent increase in people in the house.


transit stations and retailers, which include restaurants, see the biggest percentage drop in traffic in all provinces and territories.

Quebec had the largest decrease in the second, with a 70 percent reduction in-store visits and a 75 percent fall in people going to the transit station.

Google finds large differences across provinces around a visit to the park, although the data including the time before the emergency order made by the local government.

Visitors to the park in New Brunswick doubled but fell significantly 68 percent. In British Columbia, where people flock to beaches despite advice to stay home, garden visits increased by 27 percent.

For the Northwest Territories, the data set is lost for parks, transit, workplace and housing figures as they are not enough data. In Nunavut, Google only has enough data to show a 47 percent decline in retail traffic.


To protect people’s privacy, no personal information, including the location of the individual, contact or movement, is made available at any point, the company said.

“These reports have been developed to help while following strict privacy protocols and policies,” DeSalvo and Fitzpatrick wrote.

“For this report, we use differential privacy, which adds artificial noise for our dataset enables high-quality results without identifying any individual.”

Google will make reports available in 131 countries and in Canada will offer both the provincial and national destruction.

Google only uses data from users who have a history of locations in their account settings. Location history can be turned off at any time and location history data can also be removed.

“These are unprecedented times and we will continue to evaluate these reports as we get feedback from public health officials, civil society groups, local government and the community in general,” says the blog. “We hope that these insights will add other public health information that will help people and communities remain healthy and safe.”

Google said it is also collaborating with epidemiologists working on COVID-19 with the “update for an existing aggregate, an anonymous dataset that can be used to better understand and predict the pandemic.”

“Research of this kind of data has helped see to predict epidemics, urban infrastructure and transit planning and understanding of mobility and responses to conflict and natural disasters of the people,” said the blog.

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