As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic worsens, understanding the effectiveness of public messaging and large-scale social distancing interventions is critical. The research and public health response communities can and should use population mobility data collected by private companies, with appropriate legal, organizational, and computational safeguards in place. When aggregated, these data can help refine interventions by providing near real-time information about changes in patterns of human movement.

Caroline O. Buckee1,*, Satchit Balsari2, Jennifer Chan3, Mercè Crosas4, Francesca Dominici5, Urs Gasser6, Yonatan H. Grad1, Bryan Grenfell7, M. Elizabeth Halloran8,9, Moritz U. G. Kraemer10,11, Marc Lipsitch1, C. Jessica E. Metcalf7, Lauren Ancel Meyers12, T. Alex Perkins13, Mauricio Santillana14,11, Samuel V. Scarpino15, Cecile Viboud16, Amy Wesolowski17, Andrew Schroeder18

1 Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115 USA. 2 Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 3 Emergency Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, IL 60611. 4 Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02138, USA. 5 Harvard Data Science Initiative, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02138, USA. 6 Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University Harvard Law School, Boston, MA 02138, USA. 7 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. 8 Center for Inference and Dynamics of Infectious Diseases, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA. 9 University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. 10 Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3SZ, UK. 11 Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 12 The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78702, USA. 13 Department of Biological Sciences and Eck Institute for Global Health, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. 14 Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 15 Network Science Institute, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 16 Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MA 20892, USA. 17 Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. 18 Direct Relief, Santa Barbara, CA 93117, USA.