COVID-19: Analyzing public travel patterns with cellphones
Anonymized mobile network location service supports public health authorities during pandemic
As the government of Sweden confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, it aims to implement the best possible public health policies to mitigate the spread of the virus through its population.
Abstaining from a lockdown, Sweden has made recommendations such as avoiding all non-essential travel. To stay on top of how these advised restrictions are working out, the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) needed up-to-date information about people’s travel within cities and across the country and region.
Nordic telecom company Telia collaborated with Accenture to apply an existing mobility analytics service to analyze travel trends. Crowd Insights captures movement data from Telia customers’ cellphones, which is adapted to compenstate for their market share. All data is aggregated automatically before use to protect personal privacy and can never be traced back to an individual.
With information about the public’s anonymous travel patterns within Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Estonia during the pandemic, authorities can tailor initiatives to combat the virus.
‘Privacy first’ is an underlying principle. Individuals cannot be identified, and all data input is irreversibly anonymized before being aggregated so the only thing analyzed is crowd patterns and the privacy of all network users is always protected.
Telia Crowd Insights proved that despite no formal restriction of movement being imposed, people were heeding Government advice to stay at home. Trips out of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, were shown to be down by nearly 90 per cent.
Telia and Accenture were able to rapidly assemble the team to get this urgent job done quickly and smoothly. Less than a week after the project began, the first insights on changed movement patterns were delivered.
Governments and public health authorities in all Nordic countries sought the unique insights to inform their ongoing national COVID-19 strategies. And media has requested information on the findings and visualizations, with the results being broadcast in national news across the region.
European countries implemented the Telia Crowd Insights solution.
week after the project began, the first insights were delivered.
less trips were taken out of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm.