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Brazil’s Worst-Hit State Turns to Big Data as Quarantine Wavers

  • Telecom firms helping Sao Paulo track people’s movements
  • Social isolation rate is at 50%, below the 70% seen as optimal
Stores sit closed in the Municipal Market of Sao Paulo on April 8.
Stores sit closed in the Municipal Market of Sao Paulo on April 8.Photographer: Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg

Sao Paulo, the state at the epicenter of Brazil’s coronavirus cases, is using geo-referenced data provided by the nation’s main telecom firms to monitor the adherence to quarantine measures.

The government is now able to monitor areas where there’s greater movement and concentration of people so it can step in and reinforce the need for social distancing, state secretary for economic development Patricia Ellen said in a press conference Thursday. Firms providing data include Telefonica SA and Telecom Italia SpA’s Brazilian units, as well as Claro SA and Oi SA. The government doesn’t have access to individualized data to protect people’s privacy, she added.