Editorial: The challenges and opportunities of using mobile phone data during a pandemic

Mobile phone data, when used properly and carefully, can provide important and timely insights into the spread of infectious diseases and human behavior, but the use of mobile phone data for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic has been relatively scarce, according to a new editorial co-authored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.

Among the many challenges, according to the April 27, 2020 article in Science Advances, is a lack of coordination or information exchange between national and regional agencies, scientific researchers, and private companies. The article provided an in-depth analysis of the ways in which different types of mobile phone data can help to better target and design interventions to contain COVID-19 and an overview of the barriers that hinder the use of mobile phone data.

Patrick Vinck was corresponding author of the editorial and Phuong Pham was a co-author. Both are assistant professors in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard Chan School and researchers at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

Read the article: Mobile phone data for informing public health actions across the COVID-19 pandemic life cycle