X-Mode and The Covid Alliance have neither the authority nor the ability to dictate public safety measures. What we do have, however, is a vast wealth of high quality location data, and the tools to draw valuable insights from it. In the past, these resources have often been locked behind garden walls, sold mostly to marketers and advertisers. In addition, even those pro-social organizations that do gain access to location data often have neither the experience nor the resources to leverage it effectively.
The work done by The Covid Alliance demonstrates an alternative way to think about geolocation-based analyses. Location data is not a commodity to be profited off of; it is a valuable shared resource with a unique power to improve communities and save lives. This is the underlying ambition of Picket, X-Mode’s Data for Social Impact initiative. With the help of The Covid Alliance, that ambition is being realized.
Using the technology they developed on top of X-Mode’s data, The Covid Alliance was able to create their list of at-risk counties within less than 36 hours. Imagine the possibilities offered by this kind of rapid response. Cities could optimize evacuation routes in real time during a natural disaster. Major disparities in wait times at polling locations could be picked up on a systemic level. Cities and towns, with the help of ethically sourced location data, can become smarter, safer, and more responsive to the needs of the public. The benefits offered by this kind of data staggers the imagination; but only if the tools are built right.
Since our company’s early days building safety apps, we have known that the high quality of our data presents unique opportunities for social good. With the launch of Picket in 2018, we began to pursue partnerships with researchers and nonprofits interested in developing those kinds of prosocial solutions. Too often, though, we have run into bottlenecks making the data accessible to organizations with insufficient experience or resources.
With the platform developed by The Covid Alliance, those bottlenecks are all but eliminated. High quality aggregated location data, and the tools to effectively leverage it, are more accessible than ever to those who would use them for good. Tracking the spread of COVID-19 is a vital use case at this time, but it is also only the beginning. We believe this is the start of a bright new future, one that we are excited to enter side by side with The Covid Alliance.