Initially undertaking full-fledged national lockdowns, governments are increasingly seeking more selective and localized public health interventions. Notable amongst these countries are Australia (Melbourne), Spain (Cataluña), and China (Beijing) with their recent focus on highly targeted interventions. Can such an approach be effective in controlling the pandemic? Can it help minimize the economic costs for businesses and people?
For policymakers, answering these questions in near-real time is difficult due to the delay in gathering economic, social, and financial information through conventional means. The availability of “big data for good,” however, can be a game changer for monitoring pandemic response. Large technology companies have made available human mobility data that makes it possible to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 interventions in near real-time worldwide.