Facebook Releases New Data for Good Tools to Aid Economic Recovery From Covid-19

Facebook Releases New Data for Good Tools to Aid Economic Recovery From Covid-19

By  |  December 11, 2020  |  Uncategorized  |  No Comments

Facebook this week detailed new tools via its Data for Good initiative that are aimed at providing the necessary datasets and insights to help spur economic recovery from the pandemic.

Data for Good public policy manager Laura McGorman and public policy research manager Alex Pompe said in a Newsroom post that researchers have estimated that the global economy could suffer more than $80 trillion in losses over the next five years due to Covid-19, with small businesses being hit particularly hard.

Facebook teamed up with the University of Bristol in the U.K. on a Business Activity Trends tool that aggregates information from businesses’ pages to estimate the change in activity among local businesses globally and formulate response and recovery plans.

The image below illustrates the drop in posts from business pages in the U.K. on the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown measures.


University of Bristol senior lecturer in structural and earthquake engineering Flavia De Luca said in the Newsroom post, “Determining whether small and midsized businesses are open is very important to assess the recovery after events like mandatory stay-at-home orders. The traditional way of collecting this information, such as surveys and interviews, are usually costly, time consuming and do not scale. By using real time information from Facebook, we hope to make it easier for public institutions to better respond to these events.”

Facebook also built international datasets on Commuting Zones, which it described as areas where people spend most of their time, meaning not necessarily where they live, but where they shop or work.

McGorman and Pompe shared the example below, displaying where people in Brazil spend most of their time and how this differs from traditional administrative boundaries, saying that Commuting Zones can help identify areas of economic activity and how they recover from crises.


The University of Maryland released insights gleaned from the global Covid-19 symptom survey the social network conducted in over 200 countries, providing information on whether people in different occupations are concerned about household finances and having enough food, as well as whether they experienced disruptions in employment.

The image below provides the example of the rate at which different regions in Indonesia are experiencing food insecurity.


Frauke Kreuter, director of the University of Maryland’s joint program in survey methodology, wrote in the Newsroom post, “As policymakers evaluate and respond to the rapidly changing health and economic situations in their regions, it is important to have timely information about how the situation of people regarding their economic security is changing. Having this dataset with daily information is an invaluable resource to see what has happened over the course of the pandemic.”

Finally, country-level survey data from the six installments of the Global State of Small Business report from Facebook, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development are now publicly available.

McGorman and Pompe concluded, “These new tools build on the existing range of data products that our Data for Good program offers public health officials to help combat Covid-19 around the world. We hope that researchers and nonprofits can leverage these new insights to help small businesses and communities recover more quickly from the economic effects of the pandemic.”

About the Author: David Cohen

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