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Coronavirus COVID-19

DataCOVID - a mobility study to help decision-making during coronavirus outbreak

Wednesday 1 April 2020

The State Secretariat for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence, attached to the Third Vice-Presidency of the Government and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, has pushed through, in collaboration with the National Statistics Institute (Spanish acronym: INE), a mobility study to analyse anonymous data compiled on movements of the population during the health emergency and for as long as necessary until conditions of normality are re-established, to help contribute to more efficient data-based decision-making.

The first pilot project of DataCOVID is taking place in the Region of Valencia and will allow an estimation to be made of the mobility of the Spanish population during the period of application of the lockdown measures compared with a normal situation.

The aim is to analyse the effect on the measures on the mobility of the population, identifying whether journeys between regions increase or decrease and whether there are areas in which more people gather, to help enhance decision-making in managing the health emergency.

Data harnessed to help manage response to pandemic

DataCOVID uses the possibilities offered by big data to analyse large volumes of information and extract useful conclusions, thus gaining in efficiency in evidence-based decision-making that is better coordinated and adapted to each region.

The study does not track individual movements, but employs anonymous and aggregated data on the position of mobile devices, provided directly by operators while eliminating any personal information, without identifying or tracking phone numbers or owners individually.

Since it does not use personal details, only anonymous aggregated data, this study does not breach the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Data Protection and Guarantee of Digital Rights Act 3/2018, and follows the guidelines set by the Spanish Data Protection Agency.

Furthermore, prevailing health regulations allow the competent authorities to use data for research purposes in exceptional and serious situations for public health, such as the present crisis. The data controller in this case is the National Statistics Institute.

The study will cover the whole country, dividing Spain into 3,200 mobility areas, which identify population groups of between 5,000 and 50,000 inhabitants. The data on positions analysed will allow a sample of more than 40 million mobile phones throughout Spain to be obtained.

DataCOVID will help see whether the social distancing measures implemented increase or decrease the movements of the population between regions, whether there are areas where more people gather and whether there are areas with a high density of people in relation to their healthcare capacity.

Non official translation