A critical challenge for governments in the coming months is to re-open the economy without overwhelming the health system.

To do this, decision makers across the globe argue that they need access to geo-location and health symptoms data. This allows them to understand where crowding is taking place, how this crowding relates to Covid-19 symptoms, and how specific social distancing policies affect crowding.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) document Guidelines 04/2020 on the use of location data and contact tracing tools in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak allows for the use of location information, so long as the general principles of effectiveness, necessity, and proportionality apply. It also stresses the importance of anonymization and the difficulty of anonymizing location data.

For location data to be effective, it must be precise. Traditional anonymization techniques on location data lead to large aggregates, for instance at the granularity of cities and days. To manage social distancing policies well, however, decision makers need precision at the granularity of individual buildings. This allows them to learn about crowding at different types of stores or restaurants. At the same time, governments must not be able to learn about individuals or even families and households.

High-precision data can also help individuals stay safe, by letting them know when stores are less crowded. Useful features like this can in turn can boost opt-in rates for Covid-19 apps.

This is where Aircloak can help. Using the Diffix data anonymization mechanism co-developed by Aircloak and the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS), Aircloak can provide building- and hour-level granularity of heavily-trafficked buildings while protecting the privacy of individuals, families, and homes.

Aircloak and MPI-SWS prepared a short video demonstrating the use of Aircloak to visualize location data.

At Aircloak, we are collaborating with international work groups to allow for a privacy-first approach to using Covid-19 data. Treading the fine line between privacy and utility of the collected information is where we feel at home, and we are doing everything to bring our know-how and technology to the table for the fight against Covid-19 โ€“ both now and in the future.

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