New Brief Released: What Is Mobility Data? Where Is It Used?

Andrew J. Zahuranec
Apr 15 · 2 min read

by Andrew J. Zahuranec, Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew Young, Aditi Ramesh, and Brennan Lake

PHOTO: Unsplash/Nikolay Likomanov is licensed under CC0

Mobility data is data about the geographic location of a device passively produced through normal activity. Throughout the pandemic, public health experts and public officials have used mobility data to understand patterns of COVID-19’s spread and the impact of disease control measures. However, privacy advocates and others have questioned the need for this data and raised concerns about the capacity of such data-driven tools to facilitate surveillance, improper data use, and other exploitative practices.

In April, The GovLab, Cuebiq, and the Open Data Institute released The Use of Mobility Data for Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic, which relied on several case studies to look at the opportunities, risks, and challenges associated with mobility data. Today, we hope to supplement that report with a new resource: a brief on what mobility data is and the different types of data it can include. The piece is a single page to allow decision-makers to easily read it. It provides real-world examples from the report to illustrate how different data types can be used in a responsible way.

Our hope is that this piece can introduce some clarity on a complex and often confusing topic. As the brief suggests, mobility data refers not to one type of data but, many different ways to describe geographic location. It varies by collection method, format, and context. Consequently, mitigating risks and governing use requires organizations to develop similarly varied approaches.

We invite you to learn more by reading the full piece here.

Data Stewards Network

Responsible Data Leadership to Address the Challenges of…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store