US state and local authorities strike deals with location data companies


US state and local authorities are using data from a host of location tracking companies, some of them little-known, such as X-Mode Social, Foursquare Labs, Cuebiq, Unacast, Phunware, and SafeGraph, to help them decide how and when to reopen. Many of these companies are part of the adtech industry and collect location data from unrelated apps to which users have given permission to access their location. Apple’s and Google’s refusal to allow contact tracing apps using their system to access location services on users’ phones creates an opportunity for these data providers. Authorities are considering options such as integrating the data into dashboards showing movement around their cities, performing analysis to find outbreaks, deliver messaging, and detect hotspots. Some, such as Pasadena, Texas, plan to use apps designed for the pandemic for other emergencies.
Writer: Sam Schechner, Kirsten Grind, and Patience Haggin
Publication: Wall Street Journal