Apple Maps data shows people worldwide staying home during COVID-19 pandemic

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The mobility data trends tool based on data from Apple Maps.
Data from Apple Maps users was combined to show movement trends during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Photo: Apple

A mobility data trends tool based on data from Apple Maps released on Tuesday graphically demonstrates that people around the world are staying home to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Apple introduced the tool to provide insights to health authorities looking for ways to mitigate the spread of this disease.

“While protecting your privacy, we are sharing aggregated mobility data from Apple Maps to help public health authorities learn how people travel in their communities and to provide valuable insights to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said CEO Tim Cook on Twitter.

Get Apple Maps mobility data for your city

The Mobility Trends Reports compiled from Apple Maps provides graphs for major cities and 63 countries or regions. It allows someone to see that driving in the U.S. is down 63%. In the UK, it’s down 76%. It’s decreased 87% in Italy.

But Apple’s data can also be very specific. Residents of Chicago, for example, can see that use of mass transit in their city is down 82% since this pandemic began.

Protecting privacy

This data is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions. But the company is careful to state that it is not tracking iPhone users.

“Maps doesn’t associate your data with your Apple ID, and Apple doesn’t keep a history of where you’ve been,” notes the iPhone maker. “Data collected by Maps, like search terms, navigation routing, and traffic information, is associated with random, rotating identifiers that continually reset, so Apple doesn’t have a profile of your movements and searches.”