Google has once again reinforced its commitment to tackle COVID-19. We have already covered how the recent COVID-19 Public Forecasts by the California giant will help the community tackle this pandemic. Not just Google, but the entire tech industry has risen to the occasion to support the global response against COVID-19.
What is the Announcement?
In the latest series of events, Google has announced that it will extend the free-querying of its COVID-19 public datasets for an additional year and expand access for the same. Back in March 2020, Google had announced that its new COVID-19 public datasets would be a part of Cloud Public Datasets program. Now the company has increased the deadline for free-query of COVID-19 public datasets to 15 September, 2021.
Note that the COVID-19 public datasets initially started out with just COVID-19 case data, but over time, the dataset expanded to provide other valuable inputs to researchers and public health officials. The California search engine giant has partnered with other data providers and onboarded the data to BigQuery. This has been a huge advantage for the community as the removal of barriers eased data flow, and made querying large files efficient and easier.
In its blog post announcing the access expansion and deadline extension, Google stated, “as we strive to continue supporting our users, we want to help ensure that a lack of resources is not a contributing factor in one’s ability to make sense of this data. That’s why we’re expanding datasets access, and we hope that this will expand the pool of contributors who are finding solutions to this pandemic, whether that’s students and faculty querying these datasets through distance learning in the fall or public decision makers gauging when their communities can safely reopen. We hope that these datasets continue to provide universally accessible and useful information in the fight against COVID-19.”
Google’s Efforts in Battle Against COVID-19
As already mentioned, the tech giant has already taken several steps to help the community respond to the pandemic threat. COVID-19 Public Forecasts is one such tool that helps first-responders prepare strategies for appropriate response, and then there is COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports, that provides data on community movement. The datasets for both tools have been made available on BigQuery.
Other than expanding access and extending the free-query date, Google has also included several other public datasets in its COVID-19 dataset, with notable names being American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau and OpenStreetMap. Further, the company will also publish aggregated hospital capacity data sourced from American Hospital Association to aid hospitalization planning.
Google’s COVID-19 Open Data dataset is another tool for the scientific community combating the pandemic. It combines a large number of COVID-19 and allied datasets present in the public-domain at a fine geographic level, and makes them available in BigQuery as well as CSV and JSON formats.
Lastly, Google also stated that it will continue to release new datasets in order to expand the COVID-19 public dataset going ahead. The company stated that the new datasets will mostly focus on — case and testing statistics and hospital data, response and effects of government policy, social factors impacting health and community response, and biomedical as well as other research data.