This paper describes how mobile phone data can guide government and public health authorities in determining the best course of action to control the COVID-19 pandemic and in assessing the effectiveness of control measures such as physical distancing. It identifies key gaps and reasons why this kind of data is only scarcely used, although their value in similar epidemics has proven in a number of use cases. It presents ways to overcome these gaps and key recommendations for urgent action, most notably the establishment of mixed expert groups on national and regional level, and the inclusion and support of governments and public authorities early on.
In this paper, we seek to identify what types of sensor data can be collected on a
smartphone and which of those types can pose a threat to user privacy by looking into the hardware capabilities of modern smartphone devices and how smartphone data is used in the literature. We then summarize some implications that this information could have on the GDPR.