Telus providing de-identified network mobility data for COVID-19 research

The carrier is providing aggregate and de-identified data to enhance COVID-19 research


Vancouver-based national carrier Telus says that it is providing aggregate and de-identified network mobility data to enhance COVID-19 research.

It is working alongside the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), which is a federal organization, to support government efforts to flatten the curve stop the spread of the virus.

Telus says qualified researchers will use the data to measure progress and assess additional opportunities to help stop the spread of COVID-19 without compromising personal privacy.

The prospect of using mobility data to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been widely discussed alongside privacy concerns recently, and it appears that Telus may be the first Canadian carrier to disclose that it is providing mobility data to a research facility.

Canadian researchers will be given supervised and guided access to “rigorously” de-identified Telus network mobility data so it can be used with other data, such as the number of positive diagnoses in a region, in order to find correlations.

Telus notes that correlations found through the data could help governments and public health authorities develop public policies and determine where to allocate resources.

“It is important from a privacy and trust standpoint that any use of data analytics is done in a manner that is transparent and respectful of Canadians’ expectations about their personal privacy, and we believe this collaboration with Telus achieves exactly that,” Marc Fortin, the vice-president of research partnerships at NSERC, said in a press release.

The carrier repeatedly emphasizes that the data is de-identified, but this initiative may receive some pushback due to privacy concerns.

Source: Telus