Facebook new tracker tool

Facebook and Google have launched new tools to gather data on population movements in an effort to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

Facebook said in a statement it has created new “disease prevention maps” designed to help researchers identify areas where the virus COVID-19 might spread next.

Today we’re announcing new tools:

  • Three new types of Disease Prevention Maps to help inform disease forecasting efforts and protective measures
  • A prompt on Facebook encouraging people in the US to participate in a voluntary survey from Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center designed to help health researchers identify COVID-19 hotspots earlier

Providing New Tools for Disease Prevention 

Researchers and health experts around the world have advocated for more of this information to respond to the pandemic, so today, we’re sharing three new tools:

Co-location maps reveal the probability that people in one area will come in contact with people in another, helping illuminate where COVID-19 cases may appear next.

Movement range trends show at a regional level whether people are staying near home or visiting many parts of town, which can provide insights into whether preventive measures are headed in the right direction.

The social connectedness index shows friendships across states and countries, which can help epidemiologists forecast the likelihood of disease spread, as well as where areas hardest hit by COVID-19 might seek support.

Disease Prevention Maps aggregate information from Facebook, and we take additional steps to obscure people’s identities and reduce the risk that anyone could be re-identified. For example, our datasets can show information at a city or county level, not the patterns of individuals.

Launching a Survey for Health Researchers to Track COVID-19

Starting today in the US, some people will see a link at the top of News Feed to an optional, off-Facebook survey to help health researchers better monitor and forecast the spread of COVID-19. The survey — run by Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center — will be used to generate new insights on how to respond to the crisis, including heat maps of self-reported symptoms. This information can help health systems plan where resources are needed and potentially when, where and how to reopen parts of society. If the results are helpful, we’ll make similar surveys available in other parts of the world.

CMU Delphi Research won’t share individual survey responses with Facebook, and Facebook won’t share information about who you are with the researchers.