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Europe: Mobile phone data shows effects of COVID-19 containment and combat measures

New studies published by the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC) give us a more in-depth look at the correlation between the movement of citizens and the spread of the new coronavirus, as well as on the effectiveness of the restrictions imposed by the countries of the EU to contain the pandemic.

The findings, based on the location data of several smartphones, will help member states to make decision-making decisions, both in the process of deflation and in mapping the economic impacts of the pandemic and in anticipating new outbreaks. The European Commission points out that the data used in the studies were provided by 14 European operators, but that they were duly anonymized.

In a statement, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, underlined the potential of the opportunities offered by models of data sharing between companies and governments, "especially in times of crisis", he concluded.

Studies indicate that mobility was the main cause of virus spread in Italy, France and Spain and that containment measures, implemented across Europe, were effective in containing the pandemic.

The data also allowed the identification of mobility patterns and crossing points for people from different areas, which further enhances the spread of COVID-19. Although it may seem like a natural conclusion, the investigation now offers the necessary data to prove, scientifically, that social distance has slowed the spread of the disease.

The EC expects to be able to continue to rely on this platform for collaboration with European operators, at least for as long as is necessary to combat the virus. Over the next few months, the commission believes that the data will be essential in formulating measures against COVID-19.

The initiative is part of the European plan that aims to build strategies to fight the coronavirus with the help of data and mobile applications, as announced last April. At the time, member states agreed to join efforts to facilitate the sharing of mobility data as a way to help fight disease.

The studies are available online and can be read in full through this link.