Aggregated network mobility data from TELUS supports efforts to reduce spread of COVID-19

Tech Intelligence Bulletin (HG Insights) – The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the largest funder of natural science and engineering research in Canada, and TELUS are working together to support government efforts to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

TELUS will share insights with NSERC researchers free of charge and provide supervised and guided access to strongly de-identified and aggregated network mobility data to be used by NSERC-eligible researchers that are studying and assessing the COVID-19 crisis. For research projects that qualify, NSERC will offer a $50,000 grant as part of their NSERC Alliance COVID-19 grants program.

Response to COVID-19 pandemic

“This data will help Canadian researchers to better understand and measure various elements of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a number of other factors that will inform our efforts to keep people safe now and in the future,” said Marc Fortin, Vice President of Research Partnerships at NSERC. “It is also 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.”

The partnership with NSERC will allow Canadian researchers supervised and guided access to rigorously de-identified TELUS network mobility data so that it can be aggregated, extrapolated and then analyzed in conjunction with other data — such as the number of positive diagnoses in a region — in order to find correlations that could help governments and health authorities develop public policy and determine where to allocate much-needed resources.

“Prevent or mitigate future phases of COVID-19”

“As a leading communications and healthcare technology company, we have a responsibility to help keep Canadians safe and well. By leveraging de-identified and aggregated data responsibly, while protecting the privacy of all Canadians, we have a unique opportunity to detect trends and patterns that will assist in improving the coordination of healthcare and contribute to studies that could prevent or mitigate future phases of COVID-19 or other pandemics,” said Pam Snively, Chief Data and Trust Officer at TELUS. “We believe there is a very clear and strategic benefit to our society that can be achieved by using depersonalized data to help researchers to make more informed and strategic decisions as they and governments, healthcare authorities and public agencies work tirelessly to stem the spread of COVID-19.”