Facebook releases new map, datasets to help combat Covid-19

Facebook has released new visualisations and datasets publicly along with a new survey to help researchers and healthcare providers combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

These include a Covid-19 map and dashboard which include international results from Facebook’s symptom survey as well as its movement range datasets “that are informing the public sector response to Covid-19 around the world”.

In 2017, the company launched ‘Data for Good’ with the goal of empowering partners with data to help make progress on major social issues.

Over the past few months, public health researchers have used data sets released by Facebook to inform decisions around Covid-19 across Asia, Europe and North America.

The company said it has also made publicly available mobility datasets that show the rates at which different communities are reducing their mobility or remaining in the same place.

“These use aggregated data and we’ve applied a differential privacy framework to protect people’s privacy in creating and sharing these datasets,” the social networking giant said in a statement.

The new map showing travel patterns between countries and states to help researchers and NGOs understand how long distance travel continues to impact the spread of COVID-19.

The new survey about people’s knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding Covid-19 was conducted in partnership with the Initiative on the Digital Economy at MIT and advised by Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programmes and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Earlier this month, Facebood said that ‘Data for Good’ simply aggregates data it collects from its apps and shares it in a de-identified way to help researchers, academics and others address humanitarian crises and social issues.

Facebook said the research partners enrolled in the ‘Data for Good’ programme only have access to aggregate information from Facebook and it does not share any individual information.

Some datasets are being shared publicly, but these are formatted to help prevent re-identification, it added.

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